Manchester Thunder will play their home Superleague semi final at the Manchester Arena on April 18 and over a 1,000 tickets have already been sold in just 24-hours. The venue reflects both the growing popularity of netball and women’s sports as a whole, with Sky Sports broadcasting the match live from the 21,000 capacity arena.
The game follows the success of the recent Superleague match between Surrey Storm and Hertfordshire Mavericks which saw just over 6,000 netball fans attend the Copperbox in Olympic Park. Thunder are aiming to attract an even bigger crowd for the Manchester tie.
The opponents for the reigning Superleague champions are yet to be confirmed, but are likely to be either Hertfordshire Mavericks or Roses Rivals Yorkshire Jets. A curtain raiser netball match will take place at 4.30pm prior to the main event, with the first centre pass at 6.10pm.
Councillor Rosa Battle, Manchester City Council executive member for culture and leisure said “Manchester Thunder’s players are local sporting heroes and we should all be proud of their success. The Superleague semi-final is certain to be an unmissable historic game attracting a record breaking crowd. I’m sure the achievements of Manchester Thunder will serve as an example to women not only in Manchester but across the country – proving competitive sport isn’t just a man’s game. Manchester, working with Sport England, has been keen to promote sporting opportunities for women through the “This Girl Can’ campaign. So it fantastic to see elite women’s sport getting the attention it deserves. I’d urge all sports fans in the city to get down to the arena to cheer on Thunder in their bid for the Superleague title.”
The arena, which has played host to major sporting events in the past, including boxing bouts and ice hockey, is pleased to welcome netball once again to the Arena.
It previously hosted the international Fast5 (FastNet) tournament in 2009 and before that netball at the Commonwealth Games in 2002.
James Allen, general manager for Manchester Arena, said “As part of our 20th anniversary year it’s great to be working with Manchester City Council’s sports team again to bring netball back to the Arena. All the venue staff are completely hooked on Manchester Thunder’s progress this season and we can’t wait to welcome them next month for arguably the biggest game in their history.”
Manchester Thunder coach Tracey Neville added “Everyone at Manchester Thunder is excited to get out on court in one of Manchester’s most iconic venues. The players will relish playing in front of such a big crowd.”
Report by Denise Evans