Wales

Circuit of Wales teams up with Extreme as business partner

Artist impression Image copyright Circuit of Wales
Image caption The Circuit of Wales still needs guarantees from the Welsh Government

The Circuit of Wales has unveiled the Extreme Sports Company as its new business partner in its bid to build the £425m facility near Ebbw Vale.

Extreme runs events and has an online sports channel with a reach in 68 countries.

As well as the motorbike circuit, new proposals include mountain bike trails, a BMX park, concerts and indoor skiing.

Last summer, ministers asked project heads to do more work before they could underwrite the plans.

Extreme, which launched in 1995, boasts that its channel reaches 400 million people a month.

Alistair Gosling, chairman and chief executive of Extreme, said: "With the growth and interest we are seeing in our sector, it is fantastic to announce this world-leading Extreme Destination, combining a never before seen collection of sports, entertainment and leisure experiences."

Image copyright Extreme

The Circuit of Wales promises to create up to 6,000 jobs in the unemployment blackspot of Blaenau Gwent by building a track with hotels and business units.

This proposes more sports and leisure, including trampolining, a skate park, virtual reality zone, surf park and stages for live music.

Martin Whitaker, chief executive of the Circuit of Wales, said: "The circuit aims to provide much more than a racing facility; it will be a 365-day leisure and business destination.

"The support we have received to date from the racing, automotive and investment communities emphasises the circuit's long-term role in boosting tourism, creating jobs and diversifying the local economy".

The partners claim the development could attract 750,000 visitors a year and inject an estimated £50m into the Welsh economy annually.

However, those behind Circuit of Wales still need to reach an agreement with the Welsh Government about financial guarantees for the project, once it has been built.

Circuit of Wales says it is meeting officials on a weekly basis and has been doing so for the last few months.

Image copyright Extreme
Image caption Extreme Destination would also put on live music events
Image copyright Extreme
Image caption A wave rider - and water park would be built to the south of the site

There had been concern the project would not be as successful in attracting as many visitors as claimed.

Until now, MotoGP - with rights until 2024 - was the only confirmed event.

This latest development would broaden the range of visitors who might be attracted to the heads of the Valleys, but would also open a global audience online.

It is significant because it addresses one of the biggest questions about the viability of the project.

Sports such as mountain biking and BMX attract a totally different but still complementary audience to motorcycle fans.

Extreme would not be funding any of the building work but it is on board with its brand and its team is working on marketing, including using its social platforms to attract more visitors.

It is backed by private banker Kleinwort Benson, which joined the Circuit of Wales project towards the end of last year as advisers.

Mr Gosling said the goal for his company was taking the brand from being a broadcaster of extreme sports to running actual, physical activities.

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