OPINION: Mansfield Town’s sports facility plan ticks all the right boxes

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I have said it many times this season, but I will say it again: Has there ever been a more exciting time to be a Mansfield Town fan?

The enthusiasm that is being generated on and off the pitch shows no sign of letting up — and long may it continue.

The latest good news came this week with the announcement that the club’s plans for a sports facility at Woburn Lane in Pleasley were finally moving forward after earlier hiccups.

The club, which revealed artist’s impressions of the proposals sure to excite fans, has asked supporters to back the idea by writing letters of support ahead of the application coming before a council planning committee — and to help the Stags with grant applications for the project.

And why wouldn’t you?

Director of youth at the Stags, Steve Hymas, revealed the multi-purpose facility would include a full 3G floodlit pitch, three full-sized grass pitches and a mini-pitch.

There are also plans for a pavilion to include eight dressing rooms to cater for all age groups and a further building that would include a function room, two classrooms, offices and a physio room.

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Perhaps more importantly, the proposals seem to tick an awful lot of boxes that would persuade councils and grant bodies to say yes.

Just look at the categories that this plan would seem to fit and so hopefully persuade councillors to give the plans the go-ahead.

Would it be of benefit to the community? A big fat yes to that one — The club has already said it wants to hear from groups and clubs who would be interested in using the facilities. And, of course, a wide variety of players at the club would benefit, from the first team through to the academy.

Would it promote the local economy and create additional jobs? Yes — Work to create the facility and then employment opportunities for the running of the facility will follow.

Would it help a local company to expand? Yes — Mansfield Town Football Club has long cherished a desire to further expand its facilities in this way, even looking back to the controversial days when Keith Haslam owned the club.

Would it provide physical and education activities for young people? Yes — The provision of classrooms in the plans shows the club’s intention to expand its already growing connection with youngsters. And in today’s society anything that aims to improve the health and wellbeing of local residents through exercise has to be a good thing.

That is just four areas where this plan looks to be a winner and one deserving of support.

Of course, there may be local objections as with most proposed developments.

But this is another example of the Stags wanting to become the hub of the community, just as its development of the Sandy Pate Bar and 1861 Suite have turned the club into a seven-days-a-week operation, for example, used by many people in the area — even, dare I say it, none Stags fans (if such people exist!)

Food, entertainment and social functions are now an established part of Mansfield Town Football Club, together with a growing family matchday experience for younger fans.

If this sports facility gets the go-ahead, it will further extend the growing links between the Stags and the community.

Manager Steve Evans called it a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and also urged fans to get involved and give their opinions.

“We want to make sure that facility gets recognition from all types of sports and people shouldn’t be frightened to say what they think; to back it, endorse it and be part of it,” he said.

He also pointed out that such facilities could help nurture young, homegrown talent so that youngsters were no longer attracted elsewhere at a young age.

Reasons to be cheerful about the Stags... reasons to be writing that letter in support of their proosal.