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