Amid the hum of joiners and painters applying finishing touches designed to dazzle, Tony McDaid cuts through the noise with a voice elevated by passion and excitement. Handed the keys to a kingdom that will officially fling open its doors this evening in East Kilbride, he has been charged with building a dreamland at rapid speed and is eager to show off its charms.

The Playsport Arena is the new home of the Caledonia Gladiators. Other basketball centres exist in Scotland but none as lavish as this. The 1600-seater main court is set for its baptism with the Sky Sports audience in attendance and Surrey Scorchers as the inaugural guests.

En route to the stands nestles a purpose-built fan zone, resplendent with a bar, club store, hospitality lounges and fun zones that offer something for all the family and multiple streams of vital revenue. Prints of players, past and present, adorn the walls which overlook a practice court already servicing not only the Gladiators men’s and women’s teams, but also an inaugural intake of teen prospects for an academy.                                             

“It's been huge to do this in five months since really putting the first spade in the ground,” said McDaid, who was appointed as chief executive in the summer. “I would describe it as warp speed.”

Then again, the club’s benefactors, Steve and Alison Timoney, have demanded upgrades at high velocity since acquiring the BBL side long known as Glasgow Rocks last summer to supplement a newly-obtained Women’s BBL franchise. Like McDaid, their history here prolongs backwards, he as a volunteer coach to a seed club in Cumbernauld, the couple as benefactors who matched pounds with personal fervour.

Enriched from selling a technology business, they had asked the players of the strictly amateur Lady Gladiators to pitch for a dream reward. “I think they expected to hear ‘a holiday to Florida,’” McDaid grins. The surprise ask was a WBBL team. Wish became reality. It spiralled quickly. The grand vision now is to become the best club in the UK, and impactful beyond. 

“It's about making sure that we are a strong organisation,” underlines McDaid, who was a tigerish presence during an all-too-brief era when Glasgow Rangers excelled, somewhat ironically, at hoops. “You need to be really strong around your infrastructure of support for the teams, have strong players on the floor, have teams that are well supported.

“But also that the arena works well. The ticketing, the community groups, you need to keep your eye on that. We believe that we have done the right things. We can now point to the arena. It's a real thing now. I can see the court. But we don’t rest on that. It's not the end. In fact, that's the beginning.”

Beyond sits a blueprint for a 6,000-capacity entertainment hub on adjoining land at a price tag that would raise the Timoneys’ investment to £20 million and loose change. The aspiration is a Phase 2 that hosts international basketball showpieces but also concerts and attractions. McDaid, once a schoolteacher, intends to absorb the inevitable lessons in the 12 months ahead before recalling the bulldozers.

And yet, despite the current split within the BBL between those aghast at unpleasant revelations engulfing 777 Partners - the league’s main investor and would-be purchaser of Everton – and those content to benefit from American largesse, it is indisputable that British basketball’s ambitions have not been this elevated since the early years of this century.

The Gladiators, in a building dubbed as the Coliseum, are primed for a battle to win hearts, minds, and trophies.

“I hope this is a new era for basketball in Scotland,” McDaid declares. “There's been lots of really good pieces of work over the years. But this is the beginning of something new in which we're trying to galvanise people.

“Obviously, that starts with the basketball community, but really importantly, those that have not been involved before, those who are not fans, to try to create that fan base, a level of excitement, a level of understanding towards the sport. We want to move a sport that we love from the sidelines of Scottish sport, hopefully into the middle of it.”