Details of a £50 million state-of-the-art sports, research and education facility for the site of the former Don Valley stadium have been unveiled.
Sheffield Sharks basketball team, Sheffield Eagles Rugby Club and the Sheffield Hallam University and The Sheffield College are all playing a part in the development of a multi-sports facility, school for pupils aged two to 16, a university technical college and a sports sciences research centre, dubbed the Olympic Legacy Park.
The site will link up with the English Institute of Sport and the Woodbourn Road athletics track, which could also be in line for improvements and could be upgraded to boast an all-weather indoor facility.
Former sports minister Richard Caborn likened the centre to the sports equivalent of the Advanced Manufacturing Centre, calling it a ‘Silicon Valley for sport’.
He said: “This will be the living heart of the valley. That is what sport ought to be.
“We are rewriting the next chapter in the book of sport for Sheffield.
“We think that this can be the Silicon Valley of sport. This is Sheffield at its best.”
He added that the facilities will form part of the Olympic legacy from the 2012 games.
The park will incorporate the 1,200-place, £17 million ‘super school’ for pupils aged two to 16 announced earlier this year.
READ MORE: Don Valley £17million super school announced
Sheffield Eagles Rugby Club will move into a new community stadium featuring a high quality synthetic pitch, a main stand seating 2,500 people and a 50-bed hotel with catering and hospitality areas as well as facilities developed in partnership with Sheffield’s second University Technical College.
A new ‘sustainable multi-purpose indoor community arena’ will house the Sheffield Sharks, which will also serve as a building for sport, culture and business.
It will have three full-size courts and seat up to 3,000 people and Sheffield-based sports and events business MLS will also move into the facility.
A new Advanced Wellbeing Research Centre on the site is set to explore sport-related issues and help create new sport-related products.
It will be home to about 50 researchers inside laboratories researching physical activity on all types of sports.
About £40 million of the project has already been funded, including £17 million for the school and £10 million from Sheffield Eagles and Sheffield Sharks.
Overall, the project is worth ‘about £50 to £55 million.’
The scheme needs to find another £10 million to build the research centre, but Mr Caborn says he is sure the investment will come - ‘we are going to get it’ he said.
Mr Caborn added: “We are taking the city’s heritage into a modern setting. This project has three clear objectives. We will deliver a multi-sports community stadium which can accommodate professional sports and will wash its face financially.
“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.
“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.
“Finally, we will deliver knowledge, intellectual property and practical development of products and services to the wealth-creating sectors of health, wellbeing and sports sectors within the Sheffield region.”
The ‘super school’ will be open by September 2015, while Sheffield Eagles will begin playing at the site from March 2016, and the new technical college will open in September 2016.
Ian Anniss, Sheffield Eagles director of community, development and education, said: “When we heard that Don Valley was to close we realised that this could be a terminal blow to Sheffield Eagles as a club, but we have always had to work hard against the odds to survive, so we rolled up our sleeves, thought creatively and formed partnerships with others who have shared a common vision of securing a long term legacy in sport, health and well-being for the site.
“At first many said that it was just a pipe dream that would never happen, but we had to make it happen if Eagles were to survive and thrive in Sheffield and the game of Rugby League not be lost to this great city. We have worked with some remarkably talented and visionary people on this project and it is an outstanding testament to what can be achieved by genuine partnership working.
“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. Unlike many sports stadia that has limited uses this one will be constantly in use - for educational and research purposes, community activities, sports development and health and well being support, as well as a venue for professional rugby - and Sheffield Eagles are proud to be part of that as a true community club.”
Andrew Cropley, executive director for strategic planning at The Sheffield College, said: “This project is set to provide an exciting legacy for young people. A second university technical college for Sheffield will enable young people to secure high quality careers and give employers the skills they need to grow in areas where there are currently shortages.”
READ MORE: Star readers mourn Don Valley stadium rubble
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