THE owners of the luxury Crossbaskets Castle hotel in Blantyre have announced what has been hailed as the largest single investment in Scottish basketball history.

Steve Timoney, who founded Glasgow-based Smart Metering Systems, and wife Alison have unveiled plans to invest £20 million in a new arena for the Caledonia Gladiators.

The project will initially see the team move to a temporary 1,800-seat stadium at the PlaySport venue in East Kilbride later this summer.

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Work is then scheduled to begin on a new purpose-built, 6,000-seat arena at the site in 2024. The new arena, which will be developed alongside a five-court practice area and community facility, is due to be completed in 2026. It is ultimately hoped that the new venue will become the home of Team GB, with talks also under way over plans for the facility to host concerts and conferences.

News of the project comes shortly before the Caledonia Gladiators’ men’s team competes in the British Basketball League trophy final against Cheshire Phoenix at the Emirates Arena in Glasgow on March 26. It will be the first time the side has contested the final in nine years.

The husband-and-wife team acquired women’s franchise Caledonia Pride last year before completing a deal to take over Glasgow Rocks. The two sides were then brought together to form the Caledonia Gladiators – the only basketball team in Scotland with two teams competing in the British Basketball Leagues.

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Mr Timoney said: “This is a hugely exciting moment for the future of the Caledonia Gladiators. Our new base at PlaySport will go on to become one of the finest basketball facilities in Europe once it is completed in 2026. It includes plans for a class-leading academy, which will train youngsters from Scotland and across the world with the aim of developing them into elite players.

“We believe our new facility has the potential to help Caledonia Gladiators become one of the most successful men and women’s teams in the BBL and WBBL, with ambitions to play at the top level in Europe.

“It’s a great time for the club, with our BBL Trophy Final match round the corner, and we’re all hugely looking forward to that match.”