THE first pitches have been laid at a new £4.9m sports park near Horspath which is on course to open in the summer.
Work began in September on the site that will feature new football, cricket and softball pitches, practice areas, a pavilion and changing rooms.
Oxford City Council leader Bob Price said the details over the layout of the pitches were being finalised pending discussions with Oxford United.
The club has previously indicated its desire to move its academy to the site from their current home in Roman Way.
Mr Price said: "It's definitely on track and progress is good - some of it will be ready in the spring but all of it will be open by the summer.
"The pitches are down but they can't be played on just yet - the grass needs to grow."
Mr Price said the purpose of the project was to provide for Oxford United - whose academy is expected to be based there.
He said: "We also wanted to extend the number of pitches available for other football teams in the city.
"The demand for football is growing and we want to be to provide for that in Oxford.
"Also it was to see what we might do for other sports such as cricket and softball and expand the number of people participating."
The new facility, funded by Oxford City Council using payments from BMW (UK) Manufacturing, will be operated by the registered leisure services charity Fusion Lifestyle.
It will replace the current pitches in Horspath Road used by Oxford United, and previously also home to Oxford Cricket Club and Oxford Softball.
Fusion Lifestyle will have a 25-year lease to operate the new facility and will focus activities – including competitions, leagues and new clubs – on key target groups in Oxford, including children and young people, and those who are currently inactive.
Director of Business Development at Fusion Lifestyle, Tim Mills, said: “We are thrilled to have started work on the new community sports facility at the Horspath Road site.
"We have been working closely with the Council to ensure that the facility is attractive and relevant to the people of Oxford and is financially sustainable in the long term."
Jeremy Stoyle, CFO BMW (UK) Manufacturing, said: "It’s great to see that work is now underway to build new, high-quality sports facilities for the local community.
"We have worked in close partnership with Oxford City Council to help develop this project and look forward to seeing the sports park take shape in the weeks and months ahead."
While the details are still being decided the new sports park, across 39 acres of land, will include three full-size grass football pitches, two 9v9 grass football pitches, three mini football pitches and could also have eight pitches, of varying sizes on floodlit 3G surfaces.
Two grass cricket pitches, four softball diamonds and a pavilion including six changing rooms, officials changing rooms, kitchen, social space and storage could also be built.
Space has also been set aside for buildings for Oxford United and a 150-space car park.
First published www.oxfordmail.co.uk by John Carter 06 Jan 2018.