Sheffield Steelers agree seven-year deal to stay at Sheffield Arena with City Council’s blessing

An unprecedented era of stability was ushered in for Sheffield Steelers, today.

Tuesday, 22nd March 2022, 5:25 pm

They signed a contract with the City Trust for seven more years at Sheffield Arena.

On top of the current deal, it means Steelers are guaranteed to play at the location until 2030.

Steelers' relationship with their present landlords is very close - but it was not always that way.

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In 2008, the club made plans to move to a new home in Rotherham. They would become tenants of a new 5,000-seater twin-pad ice rink at Rother Valley Country Park - a £350 million project - by 2011.

That never happened, the then-owner Bob Phillips left and a few years later Tony Smith took over and that was the start of a new understanding between Arena and club.

Smith put all his eggs in the Arena basket, even deciding not to play any of their games at iceSheffield.

Today's agreement comes at an interesting time.

Steelers fans wants answers.

Sheffield City Trust is handing the Arena and other facilities back to the council and it's not clear who will run the east end venue in future.

But Dom Stokes, general manager at Utilita Arena, promised the deal would be honoured as the city council had approved it along every step of the negotiation.

"The city council have been involved in all of the conversations," he said.

"They are thoroughly behind this, we could not enter into this without the city council's blessing.

Tony Smith (left), managing director at Steelers and Dom Stokes, general manager at the Utilita Arena.

"This will be honoured until 2030. Who wouldn't want the Steeler’ organisation in this building?" he asked, during a press conference.

He said he had no idea who would run the operation, going forward, though.

The deal gave "certainty" to the fans and general public and shows "we are going to be investing off and on the ice."

There are "significant plans" for modernisation, Stokes said.

Tony Smith. Photo by Dean Woolley.

Plans are afoot for more than £100 million worth of investment in Sheffield Council’s facilities, including the Arena.

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The local authority said there will be improvements to the venue’s concourse and hospitality spaces in 2022/23.

Work will also begin immediately to address a backlog of maintenance issues, which will run to 2027/28.

It also emerged that the Trust had initially wanted a five-year deal, but Tony Smith, managing director at Steelers, negotiated a further two-year extension.

Stokes described Steelers as "the heart, soul and spirit" of the Arena.

Sheffield Steelers have agreed to stay at the Sheffield Arena for another seven years.

The deal was a "natural extension" to an arrangement with the club that started 31 years ago, he added.

Smith said the Arena was the best ice hockey venue in the UK and the contract meant he could invest in the club's infrastructure, including a new or updated video 'Tron' screen above centre ice.

Smith said all ten clubs in the EIHL were seeing an increase in attendance figures, so great progress is being made across the board.

As far Steelers are concerned, the club owner promised they would stand by the league-enforced wage cap which would run for "a season or two."

On the terms of the contract finances, he said: "I'd love to say we will be paying the same rent in 2030 as we are now, but that isn't the case!

"But we needed stability is what we have got."

Dom Stokes. Photo by Dean Woolley.
Steelers fans enjoy the win over Glasgow Clan. Photos: Dean Woolley and Hayley Roberts.
Steelers fans enjoy the win over Glasgow Clan. Photos by Dean Woolley and Hayley Roberts.