Finish line may be just the start for Sheffield venues

Woodbourn Road Stadium
Woodbourn Road Stadium
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Woodbourn Road stadium may be given a new lease of life with a proposal to make it the centre of Sheffield’s athletics community.

The Star understands as part of the scheme Don Valley Stadium could be re-developed to provide a new home for several of the area’s local professional sporting teams.

Councillors are expected to announce on Monday that the £700,000 annual subsidy to Don Valley will be withdrawn in September, which would effectively close the venue to the public.

However, a group chaired by former sports minister and Member of Parliament for Sheffield Central, Richard Caborn, is close to announcing plans that could provide a long term sporting legacy for the city.

Mr Caborn told The Star that the proposals are at a very early stage.

He said: “We’re looking at a variety of options at the moment to provide a formula for sports development in the city. We’re also discussing possibilities if Don Valley closes in September.”

Woodbourn Road closed in July 2011 with athletics clubs who were based there moving to Don Valley.

The council had suggested clubs could move back to Woodbourn Road when news broke that Don Valley was now under a threat of closure.

At an elite level it meant that the likes of Olympic champion Jessica Ennis was in danger of having no outdoor track of sufficient quality to train at. Grassroots clubs were left in limbo with Woodbourn Road not ready to be simply re-opened to athletes.

The Star understands Sheffield Athletics Club, the Hallamshire Harriers and the athletics clubs of both city universities would be the focial point for a redeveloped Woodbourn Road.

Professional clubs such as Sheffield Sharks and Sheffield Eagles may also benefit from the overall plans. Neither owns its own stadium with Sharks currently playing home matches at the EIS while the Eagles split home games between Don Valley and Bramall Lane.