National ice hockey team Swindon Wildcats left without facilities ‘for the foreseeable future'

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A leisure centre in Swindon containing the only national-sized ice rink in the area has been closed indefinitely after flooding caused considerable damage.

The Link Centre ice rink, which recently underwent a £300,000 investment, is home to the National Ice Hockey League team, the Swindon Wildcats. 

Just two weeks after it reopened the ice rink has closed and the Swindon Wildcats have nowhere to train or host games. 

The Link Centre’s most recent statement said it will remain closed "for the foreseeable future".

Aaron Nell, general manager for Swindon Wildcats, told ITV News West Country: “Our ticket income is 75% of our total revenue. We have 1,100 fans every week that can’t wait for their hockey team to play. 

“We’ve got 20 players sat at home, kind of just waiting to see what’s going on at the moment.” 

Owned by Swindon Borough Council and operated by Greenwich Leisure Limited, Link Centre initially announced it would close temporarily following flash floods on 17 September.

After engaging with specialist contractors, they discovered the damage was “significantly worse than originally anticipated" with key operational areas and public spaces out of action. These include electricity supplies, pumps, drainage, heating and ventilation systems.

The Link Centre will look to reopen its gym and soft play first. Credit: ITV News

The electricity supply also remains cut off despite flood water being pumped out of the building. Once a power supply is secured, Link Centre hopes to reopen the gym, trampoline and soft play areas, as well as their fitness programs.

However, due to the complexities and severity of the damage suffered by the centre, it will take longer to reopen the swimming pool and ice rink, leaving the Swindon Wildcats and 150+ junior players without a place to train.

Link Centre said: “We will provide dates and timelines as soon as we have them.”

Lee Mason, junior chairman for Swindon Wildcats said: “I’m concerned about the impact on the children, obviously. We provide a very safe palace for 150+ players, we see them from five years old, up to 18 years old - this gives them a real focus in life.”

A junior player expresses her concern to ITV West Country about being off the ice Credit: ITV News

Junior player Elli Shaw said: “It’s pretty disappointing. We were so ready to start the season off. I train four times a week so going from four to none is a pretty big change, it’s a pretty big blow.”

Swindon Borough Councillor, Jim Grant said: “It’s a massive blow, coming off the back of the £300,000 that’s recently been invested. What I want to do is assure the people of Swindon that the Link Centre will be reopening.

“My understanding is that on Friday 29 September they will be able to give us a timescale on when the Link Centre begins to open. There is definitely some hope.”  

Greenwich Leisure Limited operator said: “We are working as hard as possible to deliver a staged reopening of the centre, as areas are cleared, cleaned and made safe.”