NAME: Paul Bartle
JOB: Managing Director of the USN Bolton Arena
CAREER PATH: I was in the financial side of the motor-trade for around 16 years and wanted something totally different. So I went working for the environmental regeneration charity Groundwork for two or three years before coming to the Arena 12 years ago. I was Financial Director and then, when the Managing Director’s role became vacant, I was appointed to that.
HOW HAS YOUR ROLE CHANGED SINCE THEN?: The Arena has changed and so it’s changed with it. The Arena was created for the 2002 Commonwealth Games, to be a legacy venue. The idea was that it was going to be a base for the LTA – a “Northern Wimbledon” – but their plans altered. The Charitable Trust that runs the Arena has since steered it into being a multi-sports’ facility. Although tennis is still very important here there are also many other attractions, like the gym and the gymnastics’ club which has more than 600 members. It’s very busy, especially at peak times, with an annual footfall of around one million people.
HAVE ATTITUDES TO FITNESS CHANGED?: Yes. Parents have greater awareness, along with teachers and GPs, of the importance of an active lifestyle as preventative not just prescriptive. This has meant more junior facilities, for example, and there have been some very effective inclusive schemes run by Sue Hayes our Programmes Manager around activities for people who have historically been very hard to reach.
WHAT DO THE NEXT THREE OR FOUR YEARS HOLD FOR THE ARENA?: We are still looking at the Middlebrook Masterplan with Bolton Wanderers FC which will bring important changes. For example, we already have planning permission for a building at the back of the main hall although we are still looking at specific uses.
IS THE JOB STILL CHALLENGING AND ENJOYABLE?: Both those. There is always something different going on here, and it’s always an enjoyable place to work with a great team and a good atmosphere. The Trust model works very well, and the future looks exciting.