March 12 - Plans have been unveiled to transform the site of Sheffield's condemned Don Valley Stadium into a "sports and wellbeing park" in what is being dubbed as "the biggest Olympic legacy project outside of London".
The major redevelopment proposals for the £29 million ($43 million/€33 million) based stadium, where Olympic heptathlon champion Jessica Ennis was discovered and still trains, were outlined today by former Sports Minister Richard Caborn at the English Institute of Sport following the decision to demolish the facility as part of council budget cuts announced earlier this month.
The plans, which Caborn said had "already received funding to go to the feasibility stage", include venues for rugby – with new homes being provided for the rugby league and union teams Sheffield Eagles and Titans – as well as facilities for basketball, gymnastics and snooker, but not athletics, which will move to the Woodbourn Road stadium.
A new National Centre for Sport and Exercise Medicine will also be built on the site alongside a technical college.
"This is the result of intensive work by a small group of significant organisations in the Sheffield City Region to consider a future for the Don Valley Stadium footprint," Caborn explained.
"In effect it becomes an advanced sports and wellbeing park giving a comprehensive delivery of the Olympic legacy that we [London 2012] promised in Singapore in 2005 [where the 2012 Olympics were awarded]."
Sheffield City Council confirmed the Don Valley Stadium will close in September as part of the £50 million budget cuts, after the authority said it spent £700,000 subsidising the venue, which also requires major repair and maintenance work costing £1.6 million.
News of its closure sparked widespread reaction and disappointment, with Ennis immediately tweeting: "So sad to lose Don Valley Stadium! Where it all started for me. Great memories."
"I was shocked," she said in Rio last night, where she was named Laureus World Sportswoman of the Year.
"It's going to be really sad to lose Don Valley because it's such an iconic stadium.
"It's partly why I got involved in athletics because I had that track there and it's special to step into a stadium like that when you're a young child.
"I've had it for a big chunk of my career to inspire me.
"The kids coming through need somewhere that's going to inspire them and where they can train hard.
"Do I feel let down?
"It's really difficult.
"I can understand part of it because it loses so much money for the city, but I've got sentimental values with the track.
"It's not just about me, it's about other athletes who use it.
"In that way, it is sad."
Her coach, Tony Minichiello, went one step further, saying he was "gutted and angry" and urged for a major rethink of how sport in Britain is organised and funded.
Sebastian Coe, meanwhile, defended the decision to close down Don Valley Stadium, with the Sheffield-raised Olympian saying he could understand the reason behind the closure that it should not be viewed as a blow to the idea of building a positive London 2012 legacy.
The British Olympic Association (BOA) and London 2012 chairman said he could sympathise with Sheffield Council's view of the venue as a drain on resources after it spent £700,000 ($104,000/€80,000) subsidising it last year.
"If you have a stadium in Sheffield, where there is clearly not a commitment locally to be a home for international track and field, and it is a 25,000-seater facility, I can understand why a local authority has to look at that and make some decisions," Coe said.
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March 2013: Jessica Ennis' home stadium to be closed by Sheffield City Council