Bars and live music inside Wigan Warriors' new indoor fanzone - next to the DW Stadium
Robin Park’s indoor running track will be converted into a huge fanzone during Warriors home games – complete with live music.
The home matchday experience is set to be dialed up a few notches as the club expand the use of their training ground site.
And they hope the atmosphere before and after games will replicate leagues clubs in the NRL, which provide areas for fans to gather before and after matches.
Nearly 1,000 fans can fit on the 80m running track, which will be carpeted and fitted out with lighting, seating and a stage.
Temporary bars will serve beers, ales and ciders while Roaming Spirit – a new mobile bar venture launched by Sean O’Loughlin – will also be on site, offering gin and prosecco,
And with the site next door to the DW Stadium, Wigan’s community director Martin McLoughlin hopes it proves a big hit with fans.
He said: “The supporters have never really had someone to call their home before a game – some are scattered around different pubs, others just turn up just before kick-off.
“In the NRL they have leagues club and we want our fans to receive a similar experience to that over here.
“With us relocating our headquarters and training ground to Robin Park, it’s opened up a lot of new opportunities and one of them is to really improve the matchday experience for our fans and visiting fans, too.
“We need to provide a 360 experience, we want our fans to feel like they are attending a big event, something they don’t want to miss, the experience should be about more than the 80 minutes on the pitch.
“Now they have a reason to come down early, there’ll be all kinds of activities going on, it’ll be affordable, they can mix with other fans – in an area which is branded ‘Wigan Rugby League’ from the minute they walk in.”
The new fanzone will be launched for this Thursday’s opening game against Warrington and McLoughlin hopes it evolves, and grows, as the season unfolds and the weather improves.
Legend Andy Gregory will be the matchday host and the first musical act will be talented acoustic artist Marcus Grimshaw, a former Orrell St James team-mate of Ollie Partington.
As well as accommodating 950 fans inside, the running track – directly under the stand – opens up on to the pitchside area, allowing fans to sit in the main stand and take in matches.
“We’ll have a lot going on,” said McLoughlin. “Whether it’s a women’s fixture, academy or reserves game taking place on the pitch, or showcasing what our award winning community foundation team have delivered in the week – such as primary and secondary school festivals, touch, tag, PDRL or even Masters rugby – whatever it is, there’ll be plenty of reasons to get down early.”
Fans can also call in after the game, too, with assistant coach John Winder and some players heading over and taking to the stage to talk about the match.
There will also be appearances from former players.
Meanwhile, Wigan have again linked with Tyrers to put on two special bus services for home matches.
The No.1 service takes in Westhoughton, Hindley Green, Hindley and Ince and the No.2 service runs through Chorley, Coppull, Standish and Shevington.
Both services will then terminate at the DW Stadium and they make the same routes back afterwards.
Fares for both services are £3 and £4 for adult singles and returns respectively (£2 and £3 for U16s).