By Gary Anderson

Former British Sports Minister has unveiled plans for an Olympic Legacy Park in Sheffield ©Bond Bryan ArchitectsFormer British Sports Minister Richard Caborn has unveiled the latest plans for the construction of an Olympic Legacy Park in Sheffield, which he claims "will rewrite the next chapter in the book of sport" in the city.

Caborn was attending a briefing, along with Sheffield City Council leader Julie Dore, outlining plans for the Olympic Legacy Park that will feature a new Advanced Wellbeing Research Centre (AWRC), a stadium and an indoor community arena, all built on the site of the former Don Valley Stadium in the East of the city.

The facility will also house a new combined primary and secondary school - scheduled to be open by September next year - that will cater for 1,200 pupils aged between two to 16 years old, and a second University Technical College for the city.

The AWRC will form the centrepiece of the Park, allowing for the design, research, evaluation and implementation of products linking the medical, physical activity, leisure and sports sectors.

It will be home to about 50 researchers, who will have fully instrumented indoor and outdoor laboratories capable of carrying out research on most physical activities.

The facility will allow research on all sports, but will be of particular benefit to those housed in the nearby English Institute of Sport, while it will also work closely with the National Centre for Sport and Exercise Medicine, acting as a research hub.

"Through the AWRC, we will bring academia, the medical profession and the full spread of physical activity across the city, from sedentary lifestyles to elite and professional athletes," said Caborn, who is the project leader of the Olympic Legacy Park.

"In the words of Lord Coe, Sheffield will undertake world-class research and provide services that will deliver long-term, systematic change to benefit the health of the nation.

"We will deliver knowledge, intellectual property and practical development of products and services to the wealth creating sectors of health, wellbeing and sports sectors with the Sheffield City region."

The Park in Sheffield will contain a medical research facility, as well as a school and indoor and outdoor sports facilities ©Bond Bryan ArchitectsThe Park in Sheffield will contain a medical research facility, as well as a school and indoor and outdoor sports facilities ©Bond Bryan Architects

The Sheffield Eagles Rugby League club is set to be the main tenant of the community stadium, which will feature a synthetic pitch with a 2,500-seater main stand, and a 50-bed hotel with catering and hospitality areas, as well as facilities developed in partnership with Sheffield University Technical College.

"The new stadium will be like no other in this country, in that it will be designed and managed to have multiple uses that reflect the needs of the broader community, as well as being a top class facility for performance rugby of both codes," said Sheffield Eagles director of community, development and education, Ian Anniss.

The 3,000 capacity multi-purpose indoor arena will be the future home of the Sheffield Sharks basketball outfit and will contain three full-size courts, while sports and events firm MLS is also set to move into the new facility.

"We are taking the city's heritage into a modern setting," Caborn, Britain's Sports Minister during London's successful bid to host the 2012 Olympics and Paralympics, added.

"We have come a long way in delivering what will be an exciting development using the city's assets."

The Olympic Legacy Park will be built on the site of the old Don Valley Stadium in Sheffield ©Getty ImagesThe Olympic Legacy Park will be built on the site of the old Don Valley Stadium in Sheffield ©Getty Images

The Don Valley Stadium was originally built for the 1991 Summer Universiade and was the training base for Sheffield's London 2012 Olympic heptathlete gold medal winner Jessica Ennis-Hill.

The Stadium, with a seated capacity of 25,000, was biggest athletics arena in Britain until the Olympic Stadium in London was built, but was closed down by Sheffield City Council in September last year as part of cost-saving measures.

The overall cost of the Olympic Legacy Park, which is also being supported by Sheffield Hallam University and Sheffield Teaching Hospitals, is an estimated £50 million ($80 million/€64 million).

About £40 million ($64 million/€51 million) of funding has already been secured, including £17 million ($27 million/€22 million) for the new school and £10 million ($16 million/€13 million) from the private sector.

A further £10 million ($16 million/€13 million) is being sought from the Regional Growth Fund, with Caborn claiming "we are going to get it".

He added that he will be addressing a conference next week focussing on the AWRC and the private sector.

International and local companies such as B Braun, Siemens, Panasonic, Toshiba and Medi Link will be attending, along with representatives of the UK Cabinet Office, the International Olympic Committee and Public Health England.

Contact the writer of this story at [email protected]

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