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Sheffield’s Don Valley Stadium faces uncertain future

Sheffield City Council has voted to close its iconic Don Valley stadium, raising fears the building could be demolished

The Sheffield City Council Architects-designed 25,000-seat sports venue will close to the public in September.

Last week, the local authority approved the closure which it says could save £7 million over the next five years.

The council – which is facing a £50 million cut to its budget – argued the building costs £700,000-a-year to run and has a £1.6 million repair bill.

Featuring a white tensile roof supported by yellow-painted tubular steel, the landmark venue opened in 1991 as the centrepiece of the Steel City’s £147 million World Student Games development. Other games venues included the Ponds Forge Swimming Pool and Sheffield Arena

Olympic gold medallist Jessica Ennis trained at Don Valley and renaming the stadium after the sports star had been suggested.

Responding to the decision on Twitter, Ennis said: ‘So sad to loose Don Valley Stadium! Where it all started for me. Great memories.’

The council plans to refurbish and reopen the smaller Woodburn Road Athletics Stadium nearby, which will replace Don Valley as the city’s main athletics venue.

Steve Brailey, chief executive of Sheffield International Venues said: ‘It has been a very difficult decision but it is entirely based on the financial pressures from central government which are affecting so many local authorities across the country.’

In a statement, Sheffield City Council said: ‘Councillors approved the proposals to remove its subsidies of £700,000 a year to Sheffield City Trust which runs Don Valley Stadium, and £400,000 to Stocksbridge Leisure Centre although an extension has been given until the end of April for the Stocksbridge community to progress any alternative proposals. 

‘The Don Valley decision is linked to the city’s plan to relocate athletics to Woodbourn Stadium. This is less than half a mile away and already offers the same quality track and field facilities as Don Valley, but can be operated for only £70,000 a year. Don Valley Stadium will operate until September and the city is already exploring regeneration options for the site.’

Councillor Isobel Bowler, cabinet member for culture, sport and leisure said: ‘No-one wants to close Don Valley but we can no longer afford to subsidise it. Over the next 10 years, the council will save over £6m - a huge amount of money.’

In a local newspaper poll of 700 people, 78 per cent preferred keeping the stadium open with just 22 per cent backing the council.

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