Gamble on sports facilities

January 31, 2006 ,

EVERY so often over the last few years the model of the proposed Cardiff Sports Village has been dusted off for a front page photo in the local paper.

Now the real thing is underway, as I saw on a recent visit to the site.

The scheme is an exciting use of a site that was heavily polluted, and shows that you can redevelop “brown field” sites instead of building on the green belt all the time.

The scheme will include leisure facilities and housing, and of course a 50m swimming pool which Cardiff has lacked since the demolition of the Empire pool.

It is hoped that when completed the facilities on offer will attract a major international team, like the Australians, for training prior to the 2012 London Olympics.

It would be a major coup for Cardiff if we achieved this, with significant economic spin-offs.

It is hoped that as well as the swimming pool there will be a snow dome, sports arena and even a white water rafting facility.

A controversial aspect of the plans is the desire to attract one of the new breed of large regional casinos. At the moment the Government is only allowing one of these to be developed in the UK.

There are concerns that developing such a facility will encourage problem gambling. But there will be a casino on the site, even if the Government doesn’t change its mind and allow more regional casinos.

Gambling is a fact of modern life, but it is important that it is monitored properly and public information about problem gambling is disseminated.

Today the biggest problem area for gambling is internet gambling.

If building a casino will help to pay for top class public facilities for Cardiff then it may be time to look at this issue again.