Loans plan for £117m Sheffield leisure strategy - as £658m World Student Games finally paid off

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Council chiefs have revealed how they plan to finance a £117m revamp of Sheffield venues - as the £658m World Student Games are paid off.

Sheffield City Council says it plans to use reserves and ‘affordable’ loans to completely rebuild three sports centres and repair eight other major sites. It comes as debts run up by the World Student Games in 1991 will finally be settled - after 33 years - next year. The authority spent £130m on the huge event. With interest, and four rounds of refinancing, that soared to £658m.

The games saw the construction of Don Valley Stadium, Sheffield Arena, Ponds Forge, Hillsborough Leisure Centre and Graves Tennis Centre. It also saw the refurbishment of the Lyceum theatre and Hyde Park flats.

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Councillor Richard Williams, chair of community, parks and leisure committee at Sheffield City Council, said the new leisure investment would be paid off in 31 years.

The opening ceremony of the World Student Games at Don Valley Stadium in 1991.The opening ceremony of the World Student Games at Don Valley Stadium in 1991.
The opening ceremony of the World Student Games at Don Valley Stadium in 1991.

He added: “The council is planning to use a combination of reserves and affordable borrowing to fund the improvements and the detailed financial planning means we will have repaid the council reserves by 2031, and the borrowing by 2054. We are planning for the future with significant investment of an estimated £100 million in leisure and entertainment in Sheffield.”

The plans include completely rebuilding Springs, Concord and Hillsborough leisure centres. And ‘maintenance, repair and improvements’ at Ponds Forge, Heeley Pool and Gym, English Institute of Sport, Ice Sheffield, Beauchief, Birley and Tinsley golf courses, Upperthorpe Healthy Living Centre, Sheffield Arena and the City Hall.

Coun Williams added: “We will set aside a significant amount of money each year to keep our facilities in top condition meaning that they will remain sustainable for much longer. To take into account the huge increase in energy costs, inflation and the cost of living, we have recently revisited our initial assumptions on finances and income and used industry data to help inform our forecasts.”

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Don Valley Stadium was demolished in 2013 in cost-saving measures approved by the city council. It has been replaced by the Olympic Legacy Park which will ultimately be worth £300m, it is claimed. Some who played a major role in the student games say it will have attracted £750million in subsequent investment – and brought many benefits to the city it helped transform.