McArdle Sport Tec was named a finalist at this year’s SAPCA Awards for its work on Reading Football Club’s training complex. The company was appointed as the main contractor to construct impressive and modern facilities at Bearwood Park as part of a £50m investment by the club.
A New Era
When Chinese businessman and investor Dai Yongge took over Reading Football Club in 2017, he stated that one of his priorities was to invest in the development of a new training facility. At the time, the club had already overgrown the training provision at its Hogwood Park facility near Wokingham.
A decision was made to build an entirely new training complex at Bearwood Park on the outskirts of Reading town – just 5 miles from the club’s Madejski Stadium. The aim was to create a modern, purpose-built home for the first team with multiple full-sized and training pitches.
The project also included a separate academy facility – as well as a number of various other ancillary buildings – in order to sustain Category One Academy status and meet the growing everyday demands of a progressive football club.
A site at Bearwood Estate was identified and contracts were initially exchanged with the Royal Merchant Navy School Foundation for the purchase of nearly 120 acres of land.
McArdle Sport Tec was appointed as main contractor for the complex, which now houses 11 football pitches. The pitches include a first-team training pitch with undersoil heating, a 3G synthetic pitch and two full-sized hybrid stitched natural turf pitches.
In addition to the sports pitches, McArdle Sport Tec also built two new visitors’ changing rooms, refurbished the existing Grade II-listed Park Lodge and constructed the first team pitch and visitors’ car park.
At 120 acres in total, the facility is part of a £50m investment by the club and is nearly three times the size of the former training centre at Hogwood.
Bigger And Better
“Hogwood has been our home for 15 years, but Bearwood is bigger, better and so bold in the statement it makes to our supporters about this club’s aspirations,” says Reading FC’s CEO Nigel Howe.
“The playing pitches, warm-up areas, 3G surface and contemporary buildings are surrounded by scenic woodland and beside a picturesque 20ha lake.
“And, registered by Historic England as a listed parks and gardens site, the project has retained the true character of the site’s mid-19th century heritage in the form of its listed grade II lodge buildings, its brick stables and the walled garden area. It is in this sort of environment, I’m confident Reading Football Club can thrive.
“The Bearwood facility will be the new home to our first team, young professionals, Academy players from the ages of 8 to 18, our coaching staff and management team as well as a large proportion of the club’s permanent staff.
Reading FC owner, Yongge Dai added: “This new forward-thinking facility has been carefully researched and planned out.
“It has been designed to serve not only our first team, but also every age group in our Academy, our Women’s team and our staff. Bearwood Park will help bring Reading Football Club even closer together.
“I believe this will be one of the very best training grounds in the country.”
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