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Article date - 10 July 2017
The annual St Helens Sports Festival – attended by over 7000 spectators including the Mayor and Mayoress of St Helens, Joe and Sylvia Pearson; St Helens Council Leader Barrie Grunewald; Liverpool City Region Metro Mayor Steve Rotherham; MP Marie Rimmer and former Premier League referee, Chis Foy – saw sports teams from across the North West compete in various activities on the site’s new and improved 3G floodlit artificial rugby and football pitches, cricket and rounders field, bowling green, and all weather tennis courts.
Other improvements to the site include the installation of six new changing room and two new carparks, taking the capacity of onsite car parking to nearly 500 vehicles.
The redevelopment totalled £3.6 million – over half of which has been provided by non-council sources including Sport England, the Football Foundation, Lawn Tennis Association, the Rugby Football League and Pilkington Recs ARLFC, who received compensation when their City Road home was developed for housing.
Ruskin has already been in the media spotlight earlier this year after Pilkington Rec’s Challenge Cup fixture against Siddal was televised and streamed online by the BBC – and was the saviour of the British Army Rugby League squad who might not have been able to train for their own Challenge Cup game, had it not been for Ruskin’s RFL certified artificial turf rugby pitch, designed to accommodate grass route sports and higher level performers in all weather.
Ruskin is also providing a new home for St. Helens Town FC, who had not been based in the borough for almost a decade – and hosted a well contested under 12s county cricket match between Lancashire and Yorkshire yesterday (Sunday 9 July) as part of the reopening event.
Commenting on the redeveloped complex, St Helens Council Leader Barrie Grunewald said: “This marvellous facility will be a huge boost for sport and the development of St Helens which will enable even more people to become active.
“The council is committed to improving people’s lives, creating better places, and delivering effectively together. Ruskin Drive is a symbol of that commitment.”
Councillor Sue Murphy, portfolio holder for leisure services, added: “It’s wonderful to finally see this colossal sports complex open to the public. For many years, Ruskin Drive was the envy of many a sports team visiting from outside the borough – so we’re extremely proud to have this new and improved state of the art facility on our doorstep which will benefit thousands of people.”