Monday, November 14, 2011
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The Venue - more than just a football stadium

by James Bond
[This article appeared on the BBC Radio Shropshire website on 24 August 2021]

BBC Radio Shropshire's James Bond visits Shropshire's newest leisure complex at Park Hall in Oswestry... soon to be home to The New Saints FC (TNS).

Not so many years ago, I used to stand in the cold watching Oswestry Town FC struggle on a mudheap of a pitch at the Park Hall Stadium.

What I see today is a million miles away. Well, £3.5m of investment away actually, as The Venue - a glittering new leisure complex - opens its doors to the public.

It's the dream of Mike Harris, a self-made businessman and entrepreneur who, having sold his IT business in the town, scorned the idea of putting his feet up and emigrating.

"Oswestry had done my business well, and I wanted to put something back," he said, "and as a father of young children I felt there was the need in Oswestry for a family-oriented venue that suited mum, dad and the kids all in one place."

And The Venue certainly has a lot to offer. A ten pin bowling alley, sauna and spa pool, fitness suite and gymnasium, an interactive games room, a soft play-area for the little uns, cafe, bar and restaurant - oh, and the latest state-of-the-art plastic pitch.

Work on the complex only started in October, and considering the horrendous weather we've had in the meantime, to open just 10 months later is akin to a whirlwind.

"Pickstocks (the contractors) are a local company, and I believe they shared the vision too to build a centre to do Oswestry really proud," says Mike.

The New Saints football club - a merger of Oswestry Town and Llansantffraid - will be moving in lock, stock and barrel. It's a fitting home for the Welsh Premier League champions, and the next piece of the jigsaw sees proposals for 3,000 seats that'll bring the stadium up to the criteria to stage European games. The club will also be looking to expand the TNS Academy, and the work it does with Oswestry's young players.