Concern over Crystal Palace sports centre’s emergency closure

Crystal Palace Stadium, for 50 years the home of British athletics, was last night subject to an emergency closure for safety reasons.

Falling down: the proud old stadium has looked neglected for many years

The whole of the National Sports Centre, including the sports hall and gyms, is closed this weekend.

There has been no official announcement about the track and infield area – often used in winter months for football – will be open again.

The announcement from operators GLL said that the concrete pillars at the base of the stadium’s floodlights were unsafe.

The stadium and the neighbouring sports hall and pools were built in the 1960s as the National Sports Centre.

But they have suffered from under-investment and inadequate maintenance in the past three decades. Although designated as an “Olympic legacy” venue to complement the new facilities built in east London for the 2012 Games, those promises have come to nothing.

The Crystal Palace 50-metre swimming pool and diving pool have been dry for more than two years, waiting for funding to pay for some major repairs to the facility.

The closure of the stadium will be a body blow for the coaches, sports clubs and centre users drawn from across south-east England, for whom the Palace has been a vital training base. Fears that the stadium site could be demolished will be raised once more.

Glory days: Steve Ovett beat Kenya’s Henry Rono over two miles in 1978 to set one on the stadium’s many world records

The GLL statement, posted on the operators’ website at 6pm last night, says, “Crystal Palace National Sports Centre has temporarily closed today (Friday 18 November) after some sections of the pillars supporting the floodlights at the stadium were deemed unsafe.

“It is likely the centre will remain closed this weekend so please check the website before visiting. Better members access has been increased to include surrounding Better leisure centres.

“GLL and the Greater London Authority (GLA) apologise for the inconvenience this closure may cause and are working closely to agree the next steps.”

Read more: When Cram and Ovett held court at a packed Crystal Palace

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6 Responses to Concern over Crystal Palace sports centre’s emergency closure

  1. Jo W says:

    I had no idea until recently that it used to host gigs too. Big acts like Coldplay, Bruce Springsteen & the Sex Pistols all played there. Would be nice if it still did rather than have to travel to the other side of London to get to somewhere like Wembley for a gig.

  2. Lewis White says:

    Not having been to a pop concert since the Isle of Wight in the 70’s, I have not been to a concert at the National Sports Centre Crystal Palace running track, but the idea of having music events, as in the past, sounds appealing and realistic.

    The last time I went to an athletics meet at this track was also in the 70’s. The era of Coe and Ovett. A golden era for UK athletics, and for the Palace track.

    How bad–in terms of state of repair– is the track and stadium itself?
    It iit in need of a wash and brush up, or knocking down?

    So sad it is languishing now, and has been for decades. Not surprising, in Austerity Britain, now Post Brexit/ Recession Britain. Particularly with the superior facilities of the Olympic Park. Crystal Palace is so unconnected, relative to its younger bigger , higher-profile sister, and is not in everyone/s mind map.

    This area of the Crystal Palace park, from the time the actual Palace ityself was relocated here from Hyde Park, has been a semi-natural amphitheatre-like dip, with the hill slopes to the North and West, and a tall rim of earth mounding, tre-covered, to the South and East. This big dip was once occupied by two large formal lakes with fountains, until they were drained and replaced (around 1900) by a sports arena, with a running track where the Grade 2 listed Pool is now , and a football pitch where the running track is now.

    At one stage, the motor racing track was built around the park–it ran alongside the South side and West side of the NSC site

    It sems that every 50 to 75 years or so, the existing facilities get ripped out, and replaced. We are now due for another such change…. if the money comes along.

    The sad thing is that high-profile capital projects get funds (or used to do) but it is harder for a facility to get enough money to be maintained properly–or, as we have now need — a major refurbishment, if the iconic swimming and diving pool and the stadium are to stay, at the heart of a new centre.

    The way forward seems to be for a sports and leisure/ recreation centre, rather than a purely ‘sports’ centre. How about a modern lido, in the mix?

    Who does have the funds? National Lottery? Government? A special tax on all South London boroughs?

    Maybe, the Government should get those tax-avoiding non dom millionaires to chip in, big time.

    With naming right for those who really step up with good amounts.
    The Lewis Hamilton Palace of Sport ?

    • dee tee says:

      The stadium was at risk 10 years ago, so I can only imagine how bad now,

      The issue is the metal inside the concrete will now be corroding. Way beyond a spruce up

  3. That picture of the worn-out decrepit stadium is something you’d expect from the former Soviet Union, just as it was falling apart. A bit like the “United” Kingdom today

  4. dee tee says:

    It has been happening for years and as the 2012 train moved on, the politicians had no plan for Crystal Palace after the Olympics.

    We have to bear in mind politicians said we had to keep the Olympic stadium in Stratford as legacy ( that turend out well ), but the Tottenham bid included the rebuild of this stadium

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