SAVE Don Valley Stadium

10th Oct 2013

Sheffield is my hometown. I moved here because of its proximity to the Peak District and the climbing. Sheffield is a city with a sporting pedigree, not just in terms of climbing. It's produced numerous boxing world champions, premier league football teams and of course most recently Jessica Ennis, the 2012 Olympic Heptathlon champion and face of the games. Jessica Ennis grew up in Sheffield and from a young age started training at Don Valley Stadium. For those who have watched or taken part in an event at the stadium, or train there seven days a week, it's a great facility to have, or at least it was. Two weeks ago it closed its gates for what may well be, if the local council have their way, the last time!

I have to admit, this puzzles me somewhat. Wasn't the "Lasting legacy" of the games and one of the criteria we secured the games on, supposed to be to encourage more people, everyday people, to participate in sport. Don Valley is the biggest athletics stadium outside London, it's a tremendous facility - but the council have decided to pull it down at a cost of £500,000 and do what with it? No one, outside of the council, seems very sure what they're going to do with what’s left of the site. The council for their part seem to be very non-committal, the local press, for once, seem to be very quiet about the whole affair (unlike them) conspiracy theories abound.

For my part, I understand if a facility is running at a loss then something needs to be done, this is what the council has to say " the decision to close and demolish Don Valley stadium was made after a report which said that, despite concerns about losing such a major sports facility, alternative closures would be worse in terms of the impact on sports participation and health - to achieve the same level of saving as closing Don Valley, the city would have to consider the alternative closure of several community pools with a loss in participation many times greater."

But there are always two sides to every argument and a group calling itself "Friends of Don Valley" has been opposing the council’s closure ideas from the very start. Only last week an application to the Government to protect the stadium by the group was rejected on the grounds that, although Don Valley stadium is an asset to the community, it is not a BIG enough asset..... However, the law doesn't deal in degrees! It clearly states that if it is an asset then they have to grant the application!

The latest on the subject was published on the Internet this week -:

Sheffield Council is considering 10 expressions of interest for the Don Valley Stadium site - and has revealed the iconic venue will disappear from the city’s skyline before the end of the year.

Paul Billington, Sheffield Council’s director of culture, said apart from a bid by the Friends of Don Valley, a campaign group, which wanted the stadium, designated as a ‘community asset’, all other interest is in the site rather than the building.

Mr Billington said: “Over the coming weeks we will be considering the different expressions of interest from third parties and what they want to do with the site"

On a personal note, I'll be sad to see the stadium demolished (if that’s what happens) Over the years I've spent some happy times there, watching races and taking photos. In fact only last summer I watched on a huge screen with thousands of local "sheffielders" as Jessica Ennis "our Jess" won the gold we were all hoping she'd win, there wasn't a dry eye in the house.