Waste of money or fantastic experience? Readers' verdicts on Sheffield's 1991 World Student Games

It’s 30 years since the World Student games – and today our readers share their views on the games.

The former Sheffield MP and sports minister Richard Caborn told The Star that much of the regeneration of the area where the games took place would not have happened without the event, with some £750 million in investment having come as a result of the project.

But many readers who took to social media told us they felt it was a waste of money.

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Princess Anne at World Student Games with British team, Sheffield 14th July 1991 filer

Nick Wilde said: “It was what Prof Stefan Szymanski called a vanity project. Officials who want to gain favour without carrying out a robust cost-benefit analysis. The Arena was money well spent but the stadium turned out to be a waste of resources.”

Market trader Ron Ward said: “Definitely not worth it, we had stalls in the Castle Market at the time and although we sold gifts our takings didn't significantly go up. Many of the visitors were hard up students so we sold a lot of gifts at cost so they could take something home with them. It was nice meeting them but definitely a waste of money.

Gary Smelt felt it was a wasted opportunity and felt organisers had misjudged the amount of television coverage the games would receive. He said: “Instead we should have gone for the Commonwealth Games that would potentially have left a real legacy.”

Kevan Eady said: “I’d never heard of the World Student Games before 1991 and I’ve never heard of them since 1991 . The debt has seriously held Sheffield back in the last 30 years especially against Leeds.”

World student games logo

Some remembered what people were saying at the time.

Steve Eyles said: “I remember people saying back then, 11 days of games, 30 years of paying.”

Pat Roberts said: “When I first moved here about the time they were on its was all the taxi drivers would talk about, they thought it was crazy! And as we are still paying for it they were right!”

Others were more supportive.

Malc Walker said: “Really enjoyed going to it. At the closing ceremony walking around the track with all the stars, that was a great experience.”

Louis Kirby said there was no stadium to show for it anymore. He added: “This city got an Olympic gold medalist from training at that stadium though.”

Sandra Jowitt said we were still paying for something that is no longer there, with the Don Valley Stadium having gone. But she said: “Was fantastic at the time and I was one of the volunteers helping on the field events and two of my boys were on the catering side.”

Lyndsey Stannard added: “Having worked on the World Student Games both at Ponds Forge and Don Valley I know it brought a lot of money into the city and I know having been a lifeguard for 12 years at Ponds, families revisited the city from all over the world afterwards.

“It created a lot of jobs. Don Valley was then mismanaged and left empty a lot of the time where opportunities were missed to host athletics, charity events and concerts. If managed properly today it could’ve been a great asset to this beautiful city. Blame the council not the World Student Games."