Key representatives of local football came together last week to witness the beginning of the build of The FDC Arena, Norfolk FA's new 3G stadia pitch opening in 2022.
Construction at the facility began earlier this month in a project that's been made possible thanks to a £250,000 grant from the Greater Norwich Growth Board, and funding of £646,000 from The Football Foundation.
Norfolk FA Chairman, Michael Banham joined Greg Rowland, Leisure Development Officer at Norwich City Council, to pose with the ‘Spade in the Ground' at the event held by Norfolk FA at their flagship facility in Bowthorpe, Norwich on Monday 15 November. Norwich City Council are formally supporting the developments at The FDC which lies within the City Council boundary.
Members of the local football community hoping to call the new facility ‘home' were present and joined by Norfolk FA & FA representatives as well as key partners of the Governing Body for football in Norfolk.
The project marks the beginning of construction in Phase 2 of Norfolk FA's two season plan of developments and refurbishments at the facility.
Last year the Football Development Centre (The FDC) based in Bowthorpe, Norwich had a facelift and extension to the main reception and office, as well as a newly installed kitchen. Following the renovations, Norfolk FA's new County Headquarters building was constructed adjacent to the building which has seen a move of the Association's core workforce from their previous offices at Meridian Business Park.
The Phase 1 works, completed by local architects and Norfolk FA partners, Chaplin Farrant, were possible due to Football Foundation funding totalling £199k and saw a £550k investment in the facility.
Phase 2 sees the conversion of the site's full size grass pitch to a state-of-the-art 3G AGP (Artificial Grass Pitch) complete with new hospitality suite. Thanks to a grant from the Greater Norwich Growth Board, and funding from the Football Foundation, the latest part of the project will see a £1.05m investment in the construction of the new stadia pitch.
Cllr Alan Waters as chair of the Greater Norwich Growth Board, said: "The GNGB is pleased to be able to help fund this excellent new facility.
"Our unique funding arrangement has helped a wide range of projects which benefit those in and around Greater Norwich, and this pitch is yet another great asset to the area."
Robert Sullivan, Chief Executive of the Football Foundation, said: “This grant award to Norfolk FA towards developing its Football Development Centre is great news for the local community.
“It will support people's ability to play our national game locally and therefore help unlock football's many benefits to physical and mental wellbeing. That's why we're committed to transforming the face of grassroots football facilities in this country. It's therefore very welcome news to hear that this funding will support Norfolk FA in developing increased 3G pitch hire availability for their local community.
“The Football Foundation is working closely with our partners - the Premier League, The FA, government and Sport England - support facility development projects like this across the country over the next decade to transform our grassroots game and unlock the power of pitches.”
Following the build, which is due to be completed in Spring 2022, the facility will see further refurbishment to its existing small-sided 3G pitches including a resurfacing of the 3G carpet, and conversion to a layout that will provide two additional 7-a-side pitches.
Upon completion of the two-year plan, investment in the facility will approach £1.75m.
Norfolk FA Chairman, Michael Banham added: “We are delighted to formally announce the commencement of work at The FDC, and we look forward to seeing football played on our new 3G pitch upon completion of the works in March next year.
“On behalf of the Association can I place on record our thanks to the Football Foundation and the Greater Norwich Growth Board for their support in enabling this project to become a reality.”