Sheffield’s Ponds Forge is a ‘success story’

Elite venue: Ponds Forge hosted pre-Olympic training camps last year and has numerous national events booked in 2013.
Elite venue: Ponds Forge hosted pre-Olympic training camps last year and has numerous national events booked in 2013.
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MANAGEMENT of Sheffield’s Ponds Forge International Sports Centre have released figures showing the venue is more popular than ever.

The statistics have been revealed in the wake of long-term fears for Sheffield’s sporting venues due to continuing council cutbacks which will see the closure of Don Valley Stadium in September.

Ponds Forge needs an annual subsidy of £1.5m - more than double the £700,000 subsidy given to Don Valley Stadium.

But because of much higher visitor figures, which stand at around 700,000 excluding spectators, the subsidy works out at just over £2 per visit, against £5 for each person using Don Valley.

Lorenzo Clark, operations director for Sheffield International Venues which operates both Ponds Forge and Don Valley, said: “There were 223 events staged at Ponds Forge in 2012/13 - 63 ‘wet events’ involving the pools and 160 ‘dry events’ using the sports hall and other facilities.

“The events booked for this year, 2013/14, currently stands at 186 - 58 wet events and 128 dry. This already exceeds the number of events confirmed at the same time last year.”

He added: “Events can range from the SIBA Beer X beer festival last weekend to the British swimming championships.

“The 2012 Olympics brought about opportunities for international training camps and Olympic heats, some of which were incorporated into regular events held year-on-year at Ponds Forge.”

Elite sporting events in 2012/13 included Olympic qualifiers for swimming and diving, English table tennis championships, and Olympic training for US diving and Canadian synchronised swimming.

During 2013/14, the programme has dates such as the British Universities and Colleges swimming contest, national cup finals for basketball, national synchronised swimming championships and the British International Disability Swimming Championships.

Coun Isobel Bowler, Sheffield Council cabinet member for culture, sport and leisure, said Ponds Forge is ‘not under threat’.