Last-ditch attempt to save Sheffield’s Don Valley Stadium

Fighting to save Don Valley Stadium are comminity coach Rob Creasey, (third left), coach Lewis Samuel (second left), with Becky Lyne and Dimitry White.
Fighting to save Don Valley Stadium are comminity coach Rob Creasey, (third left), coach Lewis Samuel (second left), with Becky Lyne and Dimitry White.
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Campaigners have launched a last-ditch attempt to save Don Valley Stadium - by demanding the council hands it over to the community.

Former athlete Lewis Samuel and community sports coach Rob Creasey, leaders of the bid to prevent its demolition, have submitted an application asking city bosses to transfer ownership of the venue.

Fighting to save Don Valley Stadium are comminity coach Rob Creasey, (third left), coach Lewis Samuel (left), with Becky Lyne and Dimitry White.

Fighting to save Don Valley Stadium are comminity coach Rob Creasey, (third left), coach Lewis Samuel (left), with Becky Lyne and Dimitry White.

They have cited Don Valley’s cultural and historical importance, along with its world-class sporting facilities, as reasons it should stay open.

The council has two months to decide whether to approve the Community Asset Transfer.

If successful, the Save Don Valley Stadium group would have six months to come up with a business plan.

But with demolition scheduled for September, time is running out.

Former 400 metre runner Lewis, aged 47, of Gleadless, said: “It needs to stay for the greater good of Sheffield.

“Our two nearest rival cities, Manchester and Leeds, are expanding all the time and we’re regressing to the 1980s.

“I think the council has done a very good job convincing people Don Valley is a white elephant but it is a misnomer. 
“Athletics competitions love coming to Sheffield but the cost of Don Valley is prohibitive.

“If the council agrees it is a community asset then we will look at getting funding from as many avenues as possible - public and private - without taking a penny from the local authority.

“There are enough people willing it to stay open and I think at the very least we could break even.”

Toni Minichiello, coach of Sheffield’s gold medal superstar Jennis Ennis-Hill, recently accused the council of pushing the heptathlete out of the city by closing the stadium.

He raised concerns over the replacement track and field at Woodbourn Road, which will be run by Sheffield Hallam University for elite sport and public use when it opens in October.

Lewis, who ran in the first meeting at Don Valley in 1990, said: “I trained at Woodbourn Road before Don Valley so I know exactly what it’s like and there’s no comparison.

“Don Valley’s value to the city is massive, not just as an athletics facility. Look at the artists who’ve played there in the past.

“We’d want community groups and schools in there all the time, so it is in use daily.”

A petition and e-petitions have collected thousands of signatures in support of the Save Don Valley Stadium campaign.

Former Sheffield Central MP and Sports Minister Richard Caborn, who is leading the overhaul of Woodbourn Road, said: “I’ve been involved with Don Valley since it was built and I tried very hard to save it with support from people like Sheffield Eagles.

“The place was full only four times in about 20 or 25 years.

“We have senior people in the city who are very knowledgeable about running facilities.

“A team of us spent weeks and we could not find a solution. I’d be very interested to hear if these people have.”