Friday, July 13th, 2012 at 3:46 pm  |  13 responses

The Regal

Nike unveils a state-of-the-art basketball facility in London.

by Ben Taylor / @benitaylor

Playing basketball in London can be frustrating at times. Well, most of the time. Courts are hard to come by, runs even harder. Indoor facilities are taken over by other sports all year round, priced out of reach to most. Outdoor courts…let’s just say it’s peak summertime here, and it hasn’t stopped raining for five weeks.

So, when Nike got in touch to ask if I’d like to see the new home for basketball in London, I grabbed my shoes and a ball, and got straight on the tube to South London to see what they were talking about.

The Regal – officially open from today – is a brand new, state of the art, basketball facility at the Black Prince Community Hub in Lambeth, South London.

As you can see from the photos above, it’s an incredible looking gym, unlike anything the UK has ever seen, as demonstrated by the smiles on the faces of the local kids being put through shooting drills when I went to check the place out.

The Regal features an elite-level sprung hardwood floor, gold plated hoops, smoked glass backboards, digital scoreboards and shot clocks, and retractable seating for 160 spectators – a pretty impressive transformation from what used to be an abandoned school hall with a leaking roof.

I spoke with Nike UK’s Tom Kydd to find out how the project came about.

“We started planning The Regal at the end of last year, and the build happened over the last three months. Nike has been involved with the Black Prince Community Hub project since 2006, with the creation of the Jordan court (an indoor facility opened by Michael Jordan). Since then, we’ve invested in the building of a running track and football (soccer) pitches and the facility has long been a hub for London School of Basketball, so we knew the demand was there for a full court.”

“And with World Basketball Festival in town, this seemed like the most fitting legacy and the perfect way to grow the game.”

That legacy will be overseen by a coaching team appointed by Nike to manage the year-round programme of free-to-access clinics, events, and training sessions for schools and the community.

“The great thing about the project is the impact it will have on the game in London,” Kydd said.

“Dedicated basketball facilities are almost unheard of here. Leisure companies make more money using space for sports like badminton, so for kids who want to play basketball, not only are facilities hard to access, they are cost prohibitive, too. This court is centrally located, free for anyone to access and an inspirational place to be.”

To find out more about The Regal, or to book a session, check out www.regalbasketball.com

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  • Sweep

    What?! Why spend all that money on one court, which is going to be used for 5 1/2 hours a week? They could do more than. They can refurb existing facilities with decent hoops, backboards and floors! I hope they do more than one marquee court! They can do more than this to promote bball in the UK.

  • http://www.slamonline.com Ben Taylor

    Dude I’m not entirely sure how you can see this as a negative thing. It’s a brand new court in an area with no facilities, that is available to the community to use free of charge, 7 days a week. There’s a full time coach giving free sessions to kids. If you want, you can book it right now to shoot around with your boys, for free. There’s nowhere else in London offering that. What is there to hate on? It’s a good thing.

  • Kevin

    Yes, its a good thing, Ben. But which is better- one expensive court or numerous basic courts throughout the city/country? Is smoked glass or gold plated rims really necessary?
    I respect Nike for financing all this but a bit more efficiency would have been better.

  • http://slamonline.com Ben Taylor

    Yeah fair enough, although I personally think they’d have more impact on the game doing one thing really well, with full support, making it a hub for the city, than a series of smaller, lesser-supported initiatives. I say that partly as someone who worked in sports administration in a previous life. Your point is totally valid though, thanks for taking the time to comment.

  • twopointgeezer

    “that is available to the community to use free of charge, 7 days a week. There’s a full time coach giving free sessions to kids. If you want, you can book it right now to shoot around with your boys, for free.”

    Really? Is that really the case?

    It appears to me that this venue is only going to be available to a very select few. This is not an all access basketball center where I can just walk in and play pick up ball.

    It’s going to be limited to the junior sessions provided and for those ballers are known within closer circles.

    Do you think they are going to just let people walk in off the street and use such an amazing facility?

    Access is going to be very very limited.

  • IndyB

    I hate Scottie Pippen.

  • http://www.slamonline.com omphalos

    ^^Me too and idk why I wanna just punch his face when I see him. It’s weird.

  • http://www.nba.com Dacre

    Why are you making every thing about Kobe? Okay so Nike sponsors him . . It’s always about Kobe with you guys.

  • http://ulf Ulf_Stewart

    Yes, the court is nice, but it’s kinda symbolic of what is wrong with basketball in the UK. As mentioned by a few readers above, this won’t be open to everyone. Plus, it’s not to everyone’s tastes. Why not refurb several courts across the UK, not just London, and try to make it as easy as possible for kids to play basketball. Spend the money on uniforms if necessary, so kids can play each other. Build up competition, and make it so that everyone can be involved. Basketball, like all team sports, just be about unification and acceptance of diversity and not geographical exclusivity.

  • http://slamonline.com Ben Osborne

    This looks awesome. Thanks Ben.

  • http://slamonline.com josie mo

    idk why some people are hating..who gives a sh*t! I think it’s bad f***** a$$! haha

  • da real

    I’m glad people are finally seeing through Nike’s bs with all these refurbs. They are strategically timed marketing executions aimed at hipsters and sneakerheads, not, ball players. Masaryk and Rivington are the same in NY. The worst players in the city get to play there because they are part of the wannabe baller hipster crowd. Who cares, all the lemmings/clones will still buy the shoes anyway….harsh, but true

  • Loaf

    Looks very impressive and is a start in promoting basketball countrywide throughout the UK. It also makes sense to set this gym up in London as London is the centre of basketball in the UK (how small it currently is) but for me, living in southampton, this does nothing for me….. but as i said its a start
    how many times me and my boys haven’t been unable to secure a basketball gym due to badminton…….. freaking Badminton!?