Second chance for Sheffield Sharks with arena plans
Sheffield Sharks have been given one month to secure a financial plan which would enable them to build a new arena by a school.
Sharks were hoping to build the arena on the Olympic Legacy Park in Attercliffe. It would be open to pupils from Oasis Academy Don Valley and would be operated by PCA Ltd.
However, council officers said the English Institute of Sport Sheffield should instead build an extension with sporting facilities for the school. The council would provide EISS owners Sheffield City Trust with a £700,000 loan to build it within 12 months.
The council is under pressure to have the facility up and running by September 2019 when secondary pupils are due to join primary children currently studying at the site.
The council’s Cabinet said it couldn’t delay a decision any longer and agreed with officers’ recommendations. Councillors have instructed work to begin with EISS.
But they will reconsider if Sharks can get their financial plan secured within four weeks.
The decision was made in private without members of the public and media being able to attend due to legal reasons.
But speaking after the meeting, council chief executive John Mothersole said: “The Cabinet was very focused on making sure that the sports facilities are provided for the school as quickly as possible.
“They were also mindful that we were advised by PCA that they believed they were two to three weeks away from securing bank finances.
“Cabinet has agreed to officers’ recommendations to proceed with the EISS option.
“But if, within four weeks, PCA can secure confirmed bank finances; can give legal guarantees to the school; can show a business plan which can support the relevant interest rates; and can confirm their ability to be ready for the school in September 2019, then the council will consider re-evaluating the options.
“If we move forward with EISS then change the decision there will be aborted costs and the council will have to face up to these and deal with it.
“But we need to stop talking and get a decision made. It’s about moving forward for the sake of the school while accepting the PCA option may firm up more. The ball in now in their court to make progress.”
Sharks have been fighting for the stadium since the Olympic Legacy Park plans were first announced on the site of the former Don Valley Stadium. They have played across the city including at Sheffield Arena and their current 'base' at the EISS.
They say the arena would be a school, sports and community facility for a largely black and minority ethnic community who can't afford to go elsewhere.