I really do wish the Star would stop repeating the old Liberal Democrat lies, that the World Student Games left a debt of £25m per year for 25 years. You keep repeating them as if they were facts. The World Student Games deficit was settled 25 years ago in 1992.
The city’s investment in a sport and cultural infrastructure to help regenerate a very depressed city was a clearly thought-out strategy and no one was under any illusions that it carried with it a long-term capital repayment plan exactly like the city’s Supertram did or for that matter our current investment into our city centre’s regeneration.
The World Student Games did not require, need, or I guess want an 11,000 – seater concert arena, just to hold its gymnastics and basketball.
It did not need or ask for the Lyceum Theatre or for that matter a sporting complex as large and sophisticated as Ponds Forge. These were all built together with four other facilities with the long-term plan to transform our city and provide our citizens with the best. The World Student Games simply launched the strategy.
It was the launch of the regeneration plan for Sheffield based on advice received from consultants Coopers & Lybrand which identified leisure and tourism as significant growth industries and recommended we invest in flagship projects.
The WSG was followed by the European Swimming Championships, the World Masters Swimming and the Special Olympics, all geared to lift the image and profile of Sheffield.
Remember we had 15 per cent unemployment and the Don Valley was derelict after the collapse of our steel industry.
In my view the strategy has proved a great success – our city was transformed, and its image has been boosted throughout the world.
We have attracted hundreds of events bringing thousands of visitors and many of the world’s best athletes and entertainers, which in turn has attracted further investment from the public and private sectors.
Our two universities draw in many students because of our sporting infrastructure and our hotel industry continues to grow.
But of course the most important fact is that we now have the very best sporting and cultural facilities for the people of Sheffield, venues where our children and grandchildren can develop their skills and talents and above all enjoy themselves.
So let’s drop the blaming of this one event, used to launch our strategy which has done so much to transform our city – for the better.
Councillor Peter Price