De Montfort University has extended its partnership with Leicester Riders guaranteeing the national basketball champions can stay in their home venue until May next year.
The Riders, who won the British Basketball League Championship title in April for the first time in their history, can now be certain of playing all their 2013/14 season home matches at the university’s John Sandford Centre.
The John Sandford has proved to be a formidable home venue for the Riders, who have not lost at the centre since February last year and remained undefeated in the league last season as they marched to the title.
But the Riders – who won the BBL league, cup and play-off treble last season and reached the Trophy final – are in the midst of talks to build a new venue elsewhere.
The treble-winners are in a partnership with Leicestershire County Cricket Club and Leicester College on a project to build a new arena at Grace Road but that project is still in the design planning stage.
Now DMU have once again stepped in with the latest John Sandford agreement. As part of the deal, the Riders will run professional coaching sessions for the DMU basketball team, offer work placements to students and student ticket offers.
This will further strengthen DMU’s commitment to offer an outstanding student experience.
The sports centre was officially closed by DMU in June last year following the opening of the university’s Queen Elizabeth II leisure centre and Riders had already had an extension allowing them to stay there last season.
The university plans to regenerate the centre as an events/conference venue as part of its campus transformation project.
Professor Dominic Shellard, Vice-Chancellor of DMU, which is one of the Riders’ main sponsors, said: “We are pleased to be able to assist the Riders once again while they complete their arena plans, and particularly to extend our partnership with them.
“This extended partnership will involve the Riders becoming more involved with our students through coaching, and with DMU’s community programmes. We think the synergies between the two organisations will be of great benefit and add to what is an already outstanding student experience at DMU. We wish them all the best for the coming season”
Riders’ managing director Russell Levenston said: “We are absolutely ecstatic that we have concluded this agreement with DMU and cannot thank the Vice-Chancellor and his staff enough for the outstanding support they have given us.
“It has been a time of uncertainty for our fans but now they know where we are playing for the next season, I am sure there will be a huge welcome to this news. Season ticket sales have been going extremely well already for the new season but I am sure this news will give everything a boost.”
The next games will be a pre-season double-header at the John Sandford against Division One outfit Huddersfield Heat on Friday and against Loughborough Student Riders on Saturday, both tipping off at 7.30pm.
The first BBL Championship game will again be at the John Sandford, against league new boys Birmingham Knights on September 28.
The deal with DMU also includes:
- Free Riders match tickets for students, plus complimentary kit
- Professional coaching from the Riders for the university basketball team
- An exhibition game to launch the partnership
- Internship opportunities for students with the Riders
- And a joint Shoot 2 The Future community sport programme.
The Shoot 2 The Future scheme has been running for more than a year and involves the Riders in Friday evening coaching sessions at DMU’s new QEII Leisure Centre. These are for 14 to 21-year-olds living within the university’s groundbreaking Square Mile Project, which covers The Fosse Road, Tudor Road, Newfoundpool and Woodgate areas.