Gavin Love more hopeful over Plymouth Raiders' Pavilions future
GAVIN LOVE admitted to being more hopeful of Marjon Plymouth Raiders staying put at the Pavilions after fears over the BBL club's long-term future at their home venue.
Local businessman and Plymouth Argyle owner James Brent has signed a deal to take over the Pavilions in September and he is planning to redevelop it, including a refurbishing of the arena.
Love and Raiders' owner Bob Widdecombe had feared the redevelopment would begin as early as next summer, thus putting 2013/14's BBL campaign at risk.
But as revealed in last Saturday's Herald, Brent said the earliest he expected the work to begin on the Pavilions would the off-season in 2014.
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Brent is buying the Pavilions from Plymouth City Council and has plans to develop the city centre venue through his Five Directions Ltd company.
The redevelopment will include removing the kidney-shaped ice rink and swimming pool and expand the arena, which is where Raiders host their home matches and therefore fear an impact to their status.
Love stressed everyone at Raiders wanted Plymouth's facilities to improve and said that matched his own ambitions for his basketball giants.
Raiders clinched a top-four play-off place last term and reached two finals – the BBL Cup and BBL Trophy – and regularly hosted 1,400 spectators at the Pavilions.
Love said: "After learning from Mr Brent that any building work at the Pavilions won't start until at least 2014, is a bit more reassuring.
"That's two years and two seasons off, during which time I want Raiders to become more successful and continue to play in front of big crowds.
"That attracts better players to our club and brings in more money which is the lifeblood for any sports club.
"We've just had a successful season and the Pavilions is a home base which is the envy of clubs up and down the length of the country.
"Very good BBL teams have to play in draughty sports halls which hold around 300 to 400 and so when they come to the Pavilions, they are knocked out by it and the passion of the fans.
"I can't imagine Raiders playing anywhere else and really don't want to."