Monday 18th September saw the Link Centre succumb to significant storm damage, resulting in the indefinite closure of the facility pending repairs and restoration of service.


The first glance many of us got as to the severity of the incident was with Auntie’s initial report soon after day-break on the morning of the storm, with ‘Significant’ flooding shuts Swindon businesses.


“The morning after the night before”, as the BBC local news team publish what was the original closure estimate of two weeks. Oh, if only… Flooded Swindon Link Centre to stay closed for two weeks.


BBC News quoted Wildcats GM and Head Coach, Aaron Nell, with the headline “Link Centre closure ’like Covid challenge’ for club.

Pull-quotes from Aaron include:

“We’re trying to figure things out on an hourly basis and we’ll find a way to get through it,” “That experience from 2020 will help us get through, we know there’s a lot being put into getting the ice and building back as soon as possible.” But with 75% of the clubs income reliant on ticket sales, he warned of the “massive” financial impact. “We’re going through forecasts now and we will survive this but its going to be difficult, we’re just going to be doing the best we can,” Mr Nell added.


Leigh and I ran the MK game in their barn as a two-hander, thanks to the way that PI:MK is configured. It was very weird being on vox in someone else’s rink, particularly given I’d handed Leigh the reigns many, many moons ago.


MP for Swindon South, Sir Robert Buckland KBE KC, has been on the case, encouraging the operators with their progress and confirming that he had engaged The Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport seeking information as to whether there were other opportunities for support whilst our community resource was being recovered. His inquiry received a response, which he published on his Parliamentary Office website, and on facebook.


BBC Local news ran a piece outlining expectations that the rink wouldn’t be reopened until next year, confirming that the leisure centre is in “far worse condition than originally thought”. Water damage had impacted plant and machinery and the site would be decontaminated and made safe in coming weeks, so a power supply could be restored.

Public statement of hope that the swimming pool will be reopened by the end of the year, but the “complex” reopening of the ice rink would take longer.

But we all know that hope is not a plan.


With the relative success of the Milton Keynes “home-from-home” in week 2, the Wildcats have secured two further such fixtures: Sunday Oct 22 at Planet Ice Bristol - meaning it’s back-to-back Pitbulls games that weekend - and then Vindico Arena Cardiff on November 11th so as to not impede signficantly on the long road weekend for the Solway Sharks.

Extraordinary times call for extraordinary measures, and whilst playing out of the Home of the Devils might seem an odd thing to do, it’s going to be a fantastic event for Cats and Sharks fans alike. Who knows? Perhaps the Vindico might be a taster for what a Wiltshire Arena might be like in the future?


On SwindonLink report that GLL reopening part of the gym and fitness studios, but with no HVAC. Battery-powered lighting, limited classes, and no changing rooms or showers.

“Whilst this is a modest step towards a full reopening, it demonstrates our commitment to the Link Centre and the hard work our staff have put in, to find the quickest possible interim solution. We hope to have generators on site within a couple of weeks, which will then enable us to operate the full range of gym equipment.