If you’re thinking about holding an event then I may have just discovered one of the University’s hidden gems for you to try.
The Marketing department recently held its annual Away Day at Aston’s Outdoor Recreation Centre based at Great Barr – and what a fantastic day it was! OK, so it can’t compete with the luxurious surroundings that make up the Aston Business School and the Lakeside Conference Centre (nor does it pretend to) but if you’re looking for practical and comfortable facilities that are a little bit quirky (the rooms have a fantastic view of our sports pitches for starters!), great hospitality, all set in the most stunning tranquil setting, then this could be the place for you to consider.
Our Away Day started in the usual fashion with the serious stuff - presentations and group discussions were the format of the morning session. The afternoon however was a very different story. Team building was very much the focus in the afternoon as we embraced activities organised by Sport Aston: skittles was the firm favourite for everyone but most tried their hand at rounders and beat the goalie too. There were also heaps of indoor activities such as giant jenga and table tennis for those who preferred something gentler!
I must confess that prior to our Away Day I hadn’t ever been to the Centre and didn’t know very much about what was there. So for all of you in the same boat, let me tell you a little about it:
The Aston University Outdoor Recreation Centre was opened in 1974 by the then Minister for Sport Dennis Howell. Set in 48 acres, the Centre is home to the University’s athletic union sports teams and comprises five football pitches, two rugby pitches and a cricket table. There’s also a synthetic floodlit pitch - activities can then take place at any time of day - and 4 squash courts. As well as the obvious sports facilities including changing accommodation for 22 teams, the Centre boasts a licensed bar, catering facilities for 180 people and several function and conference rooms. The added bonus is that there’s free parking at the Centre for 130 vehicles!
Sport Aston is now looking at how to generate more revenue from the Centre and that’s where our Away Day comes in. This just one of the initiatives that has been put in place and over the next weeks and months this is one area of business that the facility will be working hard to promote. Whilst it is used by the community for events, it has perhaps been overlooked as a venue by our own University community and this is something that Sport Aston is keen to change. Maximising the usage of its sports pitches is also in hand; over the last five years the usage of the grass pitches has trebled. Last year around 110 games were played on each grass pitch! There’s also potential for other franchised activities to be added to the site and work is continuing to investigate the feasibility for a golf driving range, putting green and archery facilities to be developed.
So if you’re thinking of holding an event whether it is for staff, students or the wider community, give a thought to Aston’s hidden gem and pay the Aston University Outdoor Recreation Centre a visit. For further in formation and prices, please contact Simon Foster, call 0121 358 4564, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Words by Louise Russell