Work on Sheffield community basketball arena 'could begin by the end of the year'

Sheffield Sharks managing director Sarah Backovic.
Sheffield Sharks managing director Sarah Backovic.
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Long-awaited work on a community basketball arena in Sheffield could start by the end of the year.

Sheffield Sharks are hoping to move into the new facility on the Olympic Legacy Park in Attercliffe and open it up for community use.

How the community arena would look.

How the community arena would look.

Speaking earlier this year Sharks' head coach Atiba Lyons said talks were only progressing at a 'snail's pace' but Richard Caborn, project lead for the OLP, said he remained hopeful of progress on the scheme.

Mr Caborn said: "We are talking to the banks now and I am reasonably optimistic we will starting building the arena this year.

"The Olympic Legacy Park is the renaissance of the Don Valley Stadium and it's a case of out with the old, in with the new."

The club has secured 70 per cent of the £4 million needed to build the 2,500-seat indoor spots arena on the site but said they were waiting for the council to get back to them on a deal which could see the authority help with the remaining 30 per cent.

Sheffield Sharks in action. Picture: Andy Chubb.

Sheffield Sharks in action. Picture: Andy Chubb.

Sharks are not only desperate to have a place to call their own for the first time since its formation in 1994, but Mr Lyons and Sarah Backovic, managing director, both said the facility would be opened up to the community.

The venue, known as the Park Community Arena, would also be used by students at the Oasis Academy Don Valley, where secondary school pupils are due to join primary age children currently studying at the site, in September.

Ms Backovic said discussions between the club, investors and Sheffield Council remained 'ongoing'.

She added: "We are reasonably optimistic for a positive outcome."

Sharks have been fighting for the stadium since the OLP 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 English Institute of Sport.

Ms Backovic said the club had to cut back the number of junior teams in its set-up this season due to a lack of facilities and said the new £4 million facility would allow it to expand its community work.

"The stadium is the brainchild of the Sharks and we need our own facility. We can't grow our junior programme without our own facility because the others we use either aren't available or aren't affordable to the kids," she said.