Rainy City Roller Girls awarded Inspired Facilities funding

The UKRDA would like to congratulate Rainy City Roller Girls, one of its member leagues, on their successful funding application to Sport England’s Inspired Facilities fund. Rainy City Roller Girls have been awarded £50,000 for upgrades to their home venue, The Thunderdome, and plan for it become a centre of excellence for roller derby in the UK.

UKRDA were successful in getting the new sport of roller derby recognised in the UK back in February 2011. This opened up the pathways to funding for the sport, from local level up to the national sports councils, and membership to an National Governing Body can demonstrate sound governance to a funding body. UKRDA are thrilled that this has lead to such an impressive award, for a worthy project, for one of its members.

League President and UKRDA Representative, Cleo Fracture, describes the process and their plans for the funding:

The building we now occupy in Oldham had been derelict for 4 years when we moved in. We took to work to transform it into a roller skating venue. Most of the work that went into the initial refurbishment was carried out by our skaters on a voluntary basis, using money we’d raised since 2008 through our bouts and bootcamp events. There’s an article about what we did on our website: http://www.rcrg.co.uk/news-item/the-thunderdome/

We could only go so far on our own, limited means, so when our finance team discovered that we were eligible to apply to be a Sport England Inspired Facility, we jumped at the chance. We are fairly unique in that there are not many Roller Derby leagues that lease their own permanent venue, and the purpose of the Inspired Facilities project is to fund improvements to permanent sports facilities to help them grow and encourage more people into sport.

The application process was lengthy, but we were well-supported by the Sport England support staff who responded quickly to any questions we had, and provided further information when we needed it. We had to be very specific about what we would spend the money on, and how the improvements would help us grow. We had to provide evidence of the need for our project, how we are involved with the local community, and how we affect other businesses in the area. We had to supply accurate reports and figures to prove the long-term sustainability and viability of our club.

We are delighted to have secured this investment, which means we can upgrade the quality of our premises. We aim to become a centre of excellence for Roller Derby in the UK; to champion our sport, and make it accessible to more people. These improvements will allow us to increase our capacity, so we can host bigger Roller Derby events, create more exposure for our sport, and grow our club.

Here’s what we’ll be using the funding for:

  • A new skate floor

We plan to lay a new floor in our venue. Currently, we skate on sealed concrete, which works, but is difficult to maintain, and isn’t completely flat. When we renovated the building, we used a scarifying machine to grind the floor as flat as possible before sealing it, but this was never going to be a perfect solution. We are now finding that wear and tear on the floor is causing holes and rivets which are difficult to fix. Installing a purpose built tiled flooring system such as Skate Court, or similar will give us an amazing responsive floor, and make the falls a lot less painful!!

  • Heating

Our building currently has no heating, so it gets pretty cold in the wintertime. This is Ok for our training sessions, but we cannot hold any public events from November until the end of February, as it’s too cold for the audience. So we’ll be using some of the funding money to install a heating system, which will be used during public events.

  • Audience Seating

Currently we can seat around 150 people to our games, but this is on plastic chairs and floor cushions. We have standing room for a further 70, giving us a capacity of around 220 maximum. We want to buy some portable tiered bleacher seating, which will allow us to increase our capacity, and to seat people more comfortably, and with a better view of the game.

  • Toilets

We have only 3 toilets in the building, which can be a problem on bout day for all our spectators, and so we want to install a further 5 toilets.

  • New hire skates and protective gear

We’re investing in some new skates and safety equipment to replenish our stock of hire kit. We have a weekly New Skater session every Monday, where anyone over 18 can come and learn to skate, with a view to joining our league. Our stock levels are low, and some is nearing the end of its usable life.


We currently have around 60 skaters on our books, and 3 bouting teams who compete both in the UK and Europe. With the help of this funding we hope to increase this number significantly over the coming months. Roller Derby is experiencing something of an explosion in interest, and our events are usually packed out with spectators. People come from all over the country to attend our bouts, and our training events. There is a strong Roller Derby community in the UK, and hundreds of skaters looking to play and train with us.

We are delighted to have been awarded this funding, and hope to make every penny count towards championing our sport. The fact that Sport England has recognised Roller Derby as a sport worth investing in says a lot about where we’re at right now. I hope that this will encourage more Roller Derby leagues to apply for funding, and be successful. You can find out more at www.sportengland.org/inspiredfacilities

Cleo Fracture
League President
Rainy City Roller Girls