Empty courts: sports facilities open in the Marshall Building

by Matt Sudlow

The start of Lent Term heralded a new era for LSE with the opening of the Marshall Building. The orgy of concrete and, well, more concrete is already winning an endless cacophony of plaudits from the architectural community and students alike, none more so than having the best view on campus. How come? It’s the one spot from which you can’t see the damn Marshall Building!

It’s a design that has split opinion. With the endless supply of Instagram stories I see of my many, many followers in awe of the place at a level of near propaganda, you’d think the building was named after some top GB News investor. Wait, what’s that?…

The headline feature of the building is undoubtedly the sports centre, something which really gets me going – some actual significant sports funding at LSE! The peacocking of the centrepiece sports hall is furthered by its two squash courts and top class strength and conditioning suite. Facilities where students would previously have had to take an arduous trip across London to use are now sat on our laps.

So, what? Teams should now be able to practice more often and with increased flexibility, able to have a training session in-between classes rather than making a whole day of it. With the new ease of access, more people may be encouraged to join the clubs with significantly less effort now needed on their part, as well as attend games as spectators, helping to foster that elusive “school spirit” we have perhaps lacked in the past.

Well, in theory. 

Outside the minimal allocated time for certain sports clubs, any student who wishes to use any of the facilities will have to pay a pretty hefty fee – £50 per hour for the sports hall, and £10 per hour for the squash courts – and that’s after the extremely generous student discount has been applied. This puts them beyond the reach of the average student, and may leave the courts simply sitting empty.

There’ll be no knockabouts at lunchtime with a few of your friends. No spontaneous practising if the hall is free. The allotted time isn’t even satisfactory for some of the sports clubs themselves, as we’ll hear from the squash team in the next issue. Just why exert so much money and effort in construction when what is surely the minimum requirement for university sports facilities isn’t even met: that students can actually use them.

Look, it’s great to have this aesthetically-stunning hall and courts in such a prime location. It’s a significant improvement on anything we previously had, the most notable of which were the tired Old Building facilities. However, in my mind, the message is clear: these aren’t facilities for the students. Boy, though, do they look damn good on a prospectus!

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