Hallam university to run athletics venue

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Sheffield Hallam University has been granted a lease to manage the revamped Woodburn Road athletics venue once it reopens after a £300,000 revamp.

Sheffield Council has offered a long-term lease which will guarantee access for the community and athletics clubs.

Woodburn is reopening after Don Valley Stadium closes in September.

The proposals have received the backing of the city’s main athletics clubs – City of Sheffield and Hallamshire Harriers – as well as the full support of Sport England and England Athletics.

Sheffield Hallam has a strong reputation for the academic quality of its sport and physical activity teaching and research.

Students will benefit from the sporting facilities at Woodbourn, and it will provide excellent volunteering opportunities for students.

Mark Swales, director of estates and facilities at Sheffield Hallam University, said: “These plans come just days after the one-year anniversary of London 2012, and we believe they will secure the city’s Olympic legacy for generations of athletes to come.

“It also emphasises the importance the University places on the key relationships we have across the city, which will not only benefit elite athletes in the city, but will also make sport and physical activity accessible to the widest possible community across the Sheffield city region.

“The site will enable us to offer our students opportunities to gain hands on experience to complement their academic learning. This includes sport students, but there may also be valuable experience to be gained in areas such as physiotherapy, coaching, events, hospitality and business.

“We will be working closely with the council, the city of Sheffield Athletics Club and other key stakeholders in the city to continue and build on the excellent athletics provision we have in Sheffield.”

Coun Isobel Bowler, Sheffield Council cabinet member for culture, sport and leisure, said: “The partnership with Sheffield Hallam presents a superb opportunity to guarantee a lasting legacy for athletics in the city.

“The council never wanted to close Don Valley Stadium, but we said from the start that we were determined to find a positive outcome for athletics and to work with the clubs to make it happen.

“Our partnership with the university will ensure that athletes have priority access to high quality facilities which will be used by local people, schools and clubs.”

Mike Corden, chair of City of Sheffield Athletics Club, said: “City of Sheffield Athletics Club’s joint plan with Sheffield Council to provide facilities for the community, and all levels of athletes, has now been secured with Sheffield Hallam University’s commitment to manage and operate Woodbourn Road athletics stadium.

“Sheffield Hallam has outlined immediate and strategic goals that overlay our plans to ensure athletics training is stabilised, and then improved, at this difficult time for track and field enthusiasts.

“With Sport England, England Athletics, Hallamshire Harriers, Sheffield City Council and City of Sheffield Athletics Club all supporting Sheffield Hallam’s proposal, the city should be well served at the refurbished and dedicated athletics arena, Woodbourn Road.”