John Charles Centre for Sport
The grandstand at the South Leeds Stadium
|Full name||The John Charles Centre for Sport|
|Former names||South Leeds Stadium|
|Location||Beeston, West Yorkshire|
|Hunslet Hawks (1996-)|
The John Charles Centre for Sport is a sports facility in South Leeds, West Yorkshire, England. It was previously named (and is still known locally as) the South Leeds Stadium and was renamed to honour John Charles (1931–2004), the former Leeds United, Juventus F.C. and Wales footballer. It is located to the south of Leeds city centre roughly on the border of Beeston, Belle Isle and Hunslet. The sports centre opened in 1996.
The stadium has been used by Leeds United for reserve matches, and since November 1995 by Hunslet Rugby League Club. It is the principal athletics stadium in the Leeds area and is the home of Leeds City Athletics Club. The sports complex also includes a tennis centre and indoor bowls and athletics centre. The stadium is one of the best available to clubs at Hunslet's level. The complex is comparable with the Gateshead International Stadium.
Hunslet Hawks & Rugby League in South Leeds
The stadium is the home venue of Rugby League Championship club Hunslet Hawks. The facility also hosts several amateur Rugby League events.
The sports centre can generally only be accessed by car or on foot, at the end of a road serving an industrial estate. People wishing to use public transport to reach the centre will need to take one of the regular and numerous buses running along Dewsbury Road from destinations including Huddersfield and the Kirklees, and Moortown. e.g. 2, 3, 3a, 117, 202, 203, 220, 221, 223, 481. It's then a 5- to 10-minute walk up the road through the industrial estate to get to the sports centre. There is one bus route, Service 481 Leeds – Wakefield, which is routed via the sports centre on evenings and Saturdays only - at all other times this bus like all the others runs straight up Dewsbury Road and not to the sports centre.
The Aquatics Centre opened on 29 October 2007. The Olympic size swimming pool replaced previous facilities at the 40-year-old Leeds International Pool, once notable for its brutalist architecture and prominent city centre position.
Two submersible booms built into the main pool enable it to be divided into three pools of different sizes and depths, allowing a flexible daily swimming programme. A floating floor allows the depth of the diving pool and ⅓ of the main pool to be varied from two metres to shallow water for teaching and 0–5 metres for the diving pool. As well as public swimming sessions, the pool hosts children's parties, sub aqua classes and swimming lessons. The centre is also suitable for national and international swimming and diving, with seating for 950 people overlooking the main pool and for 150 overlooking the diving area. The £16.5m centre also includes an aerobics studio and multi-use rooms.
The movement of the city's main public swimming facilities to South Leeds attracted criticism. It left the city centre deprived of facilities and the new centre is difficult to reach for people without the use of a car. The South Leeds Stadium is also remote for people in north Leeds and outlying villages and towns, although other public sport facilities are available throughout Leeds.
Since April 2008, the City of Leeds Synchronised Swimming Club adopted the facilities as their main centre for training and administration. The club are a regional club which consist of competitive swimmers throughout the whole of the North East.
In May 2012, the Dutch and Chinese Olympic Swimming Teams announced that they would train at the centre in the lead up to the 2012 London Olympics.
The stadium is also used for gaelic matches for time to time. Teams from all over Yorkshire, Manchester and Ireland compete for a trophy every year
The tennis centre at John Charles Centre for Sport consists of 6 indoor pitches and 6 outdoor pitches. There is also a spectator balcony, changing facilities, meeting room, and cafeteria. The courts are available to hire on a pay and play basis and can be booked up to seven days in advance or eight days in advance by LEEDSCard holders. There are a wide range of tennis sessions available to adults and youths including coaching, individual lessons, social tennis, and competitive league opportunities.
- Leeds City Council. "Aquatics Centre". Retrieved 25 October 2007.
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