Arena no longer an option for stricken Lions as moving day looms

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MK LIONS will be able to play ‘some big games’ at the arena next to stadium:mk in the future, but the British Basketball League outfit being based their full time is not possible, according to Pete Winkelman.

Lions chief executive Vince Macaulay says he will know for sure if the club has a future in Milton Keynes by the end of next week as he continues his search for a new permanent home following their forced exit from their old warehouse base in Winterhill.

Macaulay is due to meet with the owners of a potential new site in the city next week, and says that depending on the success of those talks, Lions may be forced to leave Milton Keynes after 15 years.

He says he has three offers from different towns on the table to move – and has a preferred option – but despite everything, he is still determined to remain in Milton Keynes. Mainly because of the club’s thriving youth set-up which he’s still unclear about the future of in light of a potential move away.

Meanwhile, Dons chairman Winkelman says he is offering his support where possible, but says Lions won’t be able to develop the base they need at the multi-purpose arena, which he says will be ready for music business by Easter next year.

When the arena was first constructed, the plan was for Lions to move in, but that’s not going to happen now, except for ‘big games’ if Macaulay is interested.

Winkelman said: “Since our original plan, the economic climate has changed and the design of the arena has changed. Originally it had fixed seating. Now we’re creating a multi-purpose space so we can host conferences, big dinners and concerts as well as sporting events like Vince’s big basketball games, handball and badminton.

“We would be happy for Vince to move into the arena, but if he wanted to do that for every game, I just don’t think it’s possible. We’re happy to host the big games, if it’s worth Vince’s while – a bit like Northampton Saints using the stadium for their big games.

“If I was Vince, I would be so pi**ed off that I would leave Milton Keynes. There are three other towns that have offered him a place to play.

“But we all know he’s not like that. He’s Milton Keynes orientated and that he’s doing all he can to keep the team here.”