Newcastle Eagles 'need own playing facility' - Paul Blake

Venue is last jigsaw piece - Blake

Newcastle Eagles will eventually need to move to their own playing venue if they are to grow as a club, says managing director Paul Blake.

Eagles have been at Northumbria University's Sports Central since 2010.

Leicester Riders' decision to build and move to a purpose-built venue of their own has put pressure on the Eagles to keep pace with their rivals.

"The big concern is the first club to move into a new facility, they're in a new world," Blake told BBC Look North.

"We do something similar and the opportunities open to the club would move us to a new level."

Last season Eagles under long-serving player-coach Fab Flournoy won a clean sweep of all four trophies for a third time, continuing their record as the British Basketball League's most successful club.

However Leicester's emergence as a genuine rival has been highlighted by recent success - pipping Eagles to the BBL Cup in 2014 and inflicting one of only five league defeats in the 2015 campaign.

The move to a bespoke facility has ramped up pressure on Newcastle to follow suit, with the financial and sporting benefits on offer.

"If Leicester are doing it and we don't they could be the ones with the four trophies on the table," he continued.

"That's the impact of having your own facility."

European competition is another aim for Blake and the Eagles, of which participation would require extra use of their current home which is balanced against the University's own requirements for their growing sports offering.

Blake says a site has been earmarked to switch to a new home, but there is no timescale on the switch.

"When I took this project 19 years ago anyone with a rational mind would say the ultimate goal was to leave it in its own venue and be properly sustainable," he added.

"That's the last piece of the jigsaw, if we're to keep up with Leicester and have the opportunity to play into Europe it needs to be sooner rather than later."

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