THE £2.1m sports arena at Oxford’s Court Place Farm has proved so popular in its first year that it could have been built three times the size.

The facilities at Oxford City Football Club’s home – officially opened in January last year – include a full-size artificial 3G grass pitch, pavilion and six floodlit netball courts.

The project took more than three years from planning to completion and Oxford City chairman Brian Cox said it had proved a massive success with community sportspeople of all abilities.

Mr Cox said: “It has been a fantastic initiative.

“It is always used. We could have three of them and still fill them. People are ringing up all the time.

“There’s nothing else like it in the county with a 3G pitch and netball courts.

“It has been a credit to everyone at the club. All the effort and time that has gone into it has been rewarded.”

The development was timed to coincide with the club’s 130th anniversary year. It is used for local netball and football leagues, Oxford City football, and by the Oxford University Rugby League team for training, as well as other groups.

One of the main advantages is when the weather is cold it is still available, Mr Cox said.

Oxford United use it when their training pitches are affected by the weather.

Mr Cox added: “People say sometimes the place is too good to train on. They end up playing like Brazil on it and then have to go and play on a muddy surface again.”

About 70 students from Oxford and Cherwell Valley College also study apprenticeships in sport and football at the site.

The former changing rooms are now used as classrooms.

Colin Taylor, managing director and charity trustee of Oxford City Football Club, praised everyone who helped the project happen.

Mr Taylor said: “Our sincere thanks must go out to all those organisations, colleges and businesses that made our Community Arena project possible.

“Our main club sponsors, Facilitas Group, have been fantastic throughout the development.

“Their expertise has produced such a high standard sports facility of which all of Oxford can be proud.

“The last 12 months has raised the whole profile of Oxford City FC and we have made many new friends, building on our strong community principles.

“With the (financial) help of The FA, The Football Foundation, Sport England and England Netball the foundations are clearly in place for further growth. It’s great for Oxford City to be an integral part of that success story.”

Mr Taylor also thanked Oxford City Council for its support in recognising the importance of football, netball and other sports and activities.