It was eyes down once again in Ellesmere Port in September, as the region’s newest bingo hall opened its doors for the first time, ahead of bigger plans for revamping the town centre.
The brand new Bingo 3000 venue replaced the former Mecca Bingo at the same site, much to the relief of former players.
The new venture represents the latest in a growing portfolio for the company, who now operate fourteen clubs across the UK, from Cardiff to Coatbridge.
A sad loss
Originally opened in the former Queen’s Picture House, on Marine Drive, the Mecca Bingo hall had become a pillar of the local community and a popular place to meet friends and enjoy a night out.
It opened in 2013, 45 years after the last film was shown at the cinema, with Mecca investing an impressive £4 million on facilities for its players.
Sadly for local players it played its final game on 14th October 2018, following what management described as ‘a long term and consistent decline’ in admissions, which left the operation unprofitable.
No less than 900 people signed a petition when the closure was announced, hoping to persuade Mecca to reverse their decision and keep the club open – an impressive number given that membership had fallen to just 1,200 by that point.
Since then, Ellesmere Port players have had to content themselves with marking their bingo cards online.
Things did not look good following the closure, with the club laying derelict for many months, before Club 3000 stepped in to bring the site back to life.
Big money refurbishment
As you will see from the work in progress images on the Chester Standard website, the old bingo hall was given a complete refurbishment by the new owners.
The old facilities were completely gutted and £1.3 million was spent on new seating, interior décor, staging and much more.
Brian Fraiser, founder of Club 3000, was impressed with how it turned out – “This is a great venue and we are excited to offer customers a fabulous bingo experience in a first-class, modern and secure environment”.
According to new manager, Kevin Boden, the new venue understands its role in the local community and will be offering much more than just bingo.
“We’ll have things like cabaret nights and a Christmas party, and there will be home-cooked meals,” he explained. “We are confident we can make this a success. I wouldn’t be here if not!”
Local MP, Justin Madders, also saw the upside for the local economy, with the new bingo hall creating around 40 jobs initially, with the potential for many more to follow if the club meets its target of recruiting around 2,500 to 3,000 members.
“It’s really great to see this investment in our local area,” he said. “I welcome Bingo 3000 to Ellesmere Port”.
Brian Fraiser also agreed: “The completely refurbished club will not only offer bingo lovers a fantastic new experience but also bring much-needed jobs to the local area.”
Who are Club 3000?
Club 3000 is a rapidly growing operator in the bingo sector, growing from one to fourteen clubs in as many years.
They began their operations in Coatbridge, Scotland in 2006, with two further clubs opening in Scotland and Wales in 2007.
Four years later the group expanded significantly, buying seven bingo halls from Buckingham Bingo covering venues right across the North West, including sites at Preston, Peterlee, Middleton, Old Trafford, Huyton and Walkden.
They added Stanley Park in Liverpool in 2016 and now Ellesmere Port is the next step on their road to success.
And it’s not just the group that is getting bigger, so are their wins.
Club 3000 holds the record for the biggest ever bingo win in the world, after a player collected £1,167,795 playing the National Game at their founding club in Coatbridge.
That’s almost as much as the company spent refurbishing their new Ellesmere Port venue and it will do no harm to their push for new members at the new Cheshire club.