Sheffield Eagles boss Mark Aston says the announcement of their new stadium is the biggest news in the club’s 30-year history.
Quite a claim, coming from a man who won the Lance Todd Trophy for man of the match as the Eagles upset the odds to topple Wigan Warriors at Wembley in 1998 and lift the Challenge Cup.
A man who also spearheaded the Eagles’ reappearance as a professional rugby league club in 2000, following their ill-fated merger with Huddersfield Giants.
But Aston knows the significance of the Eagles finally establishing themselves within the city, having been rugby league’s perennial ground-hoppers since the club was originally formed in 1984.
One of the major factors holding Sheffield back from being a major force within the sport has been their difficulties in enticing the wider Sheffield public into their various homes. The new Olympic Legacy Park can change that, says Aston: “It gives us a chance to develop what we’ve always needed, which is a fan base from a young age. They are the future; if you develop a fan base you then have the opportunity to develop sponsors and players.
“The exciting thing for me about the whole complex is we are going to be working with people who know how to develop sports people at the highest level.”
It was declared at the press announcement that the Eagles have raised £10m for the project in conjunction with Sheffield Sharks and Aston admits they have an investor on board who has bought into the vision of Sheffield returning to the top flight.
He continued: “It’s not only going to be a playing area; it’s going to have our offices, our club shop, a performance gym for us, it’s going to be our training ground, it’s going to be home. Someone has seen the vision that we see, that one day Sheffield Eagles can bring Super League rugby back to the City of Sport.”