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Hockey will be the first major post-Olympic championship event on Olympic Park with the EuroHockey Nations Championships to be held at the Lee Valley Hockey Centre in August, 2015.
The hockey centre will be built, post-Games, on the Eton Manor site which will host Paralympic tennis and temporary training pools during the Olympic Games.
As well as hosting the European Hockey Federation’s flagship event during 2015, the Lee Valley Hockey centre – which will open in early 2014 – will provide a venue for national finals and other high-profile games as well as being used extensively for club and junior hockey. The commitment is that the pitch will be the same standard as the Riverside Centre used for the Games, although whether the Olympic pitch will actually be relocated is still being discussed. There will also be a second pitch on the site.
For the European championships, the hockey centre’s standard 3,000 seat capacity will be expanded to hold up to 15,000 spectators with two world-class pitches, dedicated media facilities, a supporters’ village and event management offices.
The hockey centre is part of a portfolio of post-Olympic facilities to be run by the Lee Valley Regional Park Authority.
Chief executive of the authority, Shaun Dawson, said Hockey was just one of the legacy venues the Lee Valley Regional Park Authority was to run within their philosophy of “community focused, commercially driven”.
“For hockey, the focus clearly has to be around schools, club development, pathways to the elite level and supporting major events,” he said. “This is about making sure the sport isn’t compromised. There are other venues which have much greater commercial opportunities – the white water centre, for example has a much stronger commercial theme with white water rafting. The velodrome too will have a very strong business focus.
“There will be an element of cross-subsidy going on across the whole business. When we look at hockey, as a sport, what we really have to do is drive 52 weeks of the year activity. If we can do that then we can come very very close to having a neutral bottom line.”
An earlier bid to host the 2014 hockey World Cup was lost to the Netherlands with reports that the Dutch federation were able to put together a stronger commercial package. There will still be major international hockey competition in the UK in 2014, however, with the Commonwealth Games to be held in Glasgow.
UK Sport put £500,000 of National Lottery funds towards the 2015 European hockey championships bid. The 2015 tournament will be vital to all European nations as it is one qualifying route to the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janiero. It will probably only be the European Champions who will qualify directly for Rio, however, as the International Hockey Federation’s biennial ‘World League’ is due to start in August 2012. Only the continental champions are likely to qualify directly for the following Olympic Games or World Cup, the other seven qualifiers will come from the league.