Sheffield Eagles: Olympic Legacy Park is only place for Mark Aston’s men to secure a sustainable future
It might be not be straightforward, it certainly isn’t simple, but Sheffield Eagles still firmly believe the Olympic Legacy Park is the only place which can secure a sustainable future for the club.
It is season two for the Eagles amongst the shiny new development which has risen out of the ashes of Don Valley Stadium.
The Eagles are just one cog in a project which was spearheaded by former sports minister Richard Caborn, aimed at regenerating an area following the demise of DVS.
The site looks impressive, but amongst the striking buildings of the Oasis Academy (public school for 1,200 pupils), University Technical College (higher education specialising in computing, health and sport sciences) and the Advanced Wellbeing Research Centre (research for National Centre for Sport and Exercise medicine) is where you’ll find the Eagles, who are still finding their feet.
You can see why general manager Liam Claffey is keen to keep the Eagles here whilst they wait for their shared facility, owned by Scarborough Group, to be completed.
The Eagles see the vast potential of working side-by-side with the educational facilities around them, they see it as chance to build partnerships with the long-term goal of rebuilding their now defunct academy, and tapping into Sheffield being a host venue for the 2021 World Cup.
They also need a fully constructed stadium so they can boost their funds with better corporate and matchday facilities.
As always though with the Eagles, there is a snag. The club have found it difficult to manage costs in a temporary structure whilst they wait for full completion in 2020. They will of course have to pay rent as tenants, but that sounds much simpler than the current issues.
Maintaining a temporary stand, renting changing and corporate facilities from the UTC, having to fork out for temporary matchday toilets etc – it’s proving expensive.
But despite all the problems, Claffey sees the long-term potential of the site, claiming work continues on a short and long term solution which will help the club fund the gap before stadium completion.
“We are facing similar issues to what we faced last year, but we are working with all parties to come to an agreement,” he explained to The Star.
“I'd like to thank the RFL for their support in ensuring that we can play without meeting all the minimal standards. They can see the potential. We are still faced with a temporary situation but when the stadium is completed we'll be in a much better place.
“The conversations we have held with Scarborough Group is that the stadium would not work without Sheffield Eagles. They want us there, it is about getting the right deal now for Sheffield Eagles. We need support in that area, we are working hard with all parties to get something that works.”
For Claffey, the future for the club and being at the OLP is simple.
“There is either no future for Sheffield Eagles or there is a future at the Olympic Legacy Park," he added. "Our future is here, we need to make this work that is how important it is to be here.”