Will Skegness be home to the new Wembley?
A NEW 2,040-seat stadium in Skegness could become the national home of the England beach soccer team for the next five years.
Already being dubbed as Skegness’ Wembley, the stadium - which is subject to planning permission being granted - will be the first beach sports stadium in the country and one of the first in Europe.
The proposed site is adjacent to Skegness Pier.
Not only will England beach soccer play and train at the stadium, but other beach sports including Olympic sports like beach volleyball could also be played there.
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If planning permission is granted, the stadium could see 64 teams playing in weekly tournaments, a host of community events held there as well as drawing in 400,000 spectators and participants to Skegness Foreshore.
The beach soccer season is played April to October so will be a key driver to boosting the coast’s economy by extending the season.
Gary Shepherd, chief executive of Skegness Beach Stadium Ltd on making the announcement, said: “This is a momentous day for sport and Skegness.
“Beach soccer is mainly associated with the south coast but this is a national sport. Skegness is a central area to draw in more people from teams, participants and spectators from across the country.
“This area has some of the best beaches in the UK.
“We were also encouraged about how the town wants to see investment and we have got local business people supporting the project.”
The stadium could see international teams coming to Skegness to play in tournaments and could help propel the England team forward to play in the World Cup.
If planning permission is approved, the stadium could be up and running later this year.
It is also hoped that local schools will make use of facilities and local squads created.
Dance groups in East Lindsey could also add to the atmosphere which makes beach sports so popular.
The England squad have been training in Skegness over the weekend, including with schools and Skegness United.
David Jones, manager of England Beach Soccer, said: "The sand is quality here in Skegness. The plans for the stadium are so exciting and it will help put the sport on the map.
"We believe that Skegness beach represents one of the last untapped major sports and entertainment markets in the country and will offer the entire nation an excellent opportunity to strengthen an established beach sport, hopefully destined for the 2020 Olympics."
Although no figure has been quoted, organisers said this marks a ‘substantial’ investment in Skegness.
The stadium will be self funded and the majority of events hosted will be free to the public throughout the season.