In its almost 23 year history, it’s held everything from Football matches, Gigs, A World Student Games and even a Reality TV show. Don Valley Stadium was the second largest athletics stadium in the UK (the largest being the Olympic Stadium), and has been an integral part of Sheffield and the surrounding area ever since it’s opening, but now that integral part to the city, has now come to an end.
The stadium was built costing £29 million, and is now being demolished because it’s ‘unsustainable’ to run and manage. It’s said that it will save Sheffield City Council £700,000 a year.
Campaigners from Save Don Valley Stadium made a last ditch attempt to save the stadium a few days ago, but unfortunately lost their fight to take over the running of the Stadium as the city council turned down an application from the action group. They wanted to have the site listed as an ‘asset of community value’ which would’ve prevented the stadium from closing. We now know that the closing will in fact go ahead.
This decision has created much controversy, and so it should. Sebastian Coe spent a lot of his childhood in Sheffield, and so it pains me whenever I hear the phrase ‘Olympic Legacy’. It pains me because I know on the whole people are getting more involved in sports since the Olympics, but yet we’re closing down fantastic training facilities such as Don Valley and even smaller facilities such as Herringthorpe Stadium in Rotherham. Don’t get me wrong; I understand that it’s not Lord Coe’s fault that Don Valley is closing, I just find it ironic that we’re babbling on about how we need to provide opportunities to future generations, and yet we’re cutting opportunities for people to get involved in Track & Field by forcing them to train elsewhere. Many people including Olympic Champion Jessica Ennis-Hill and her trainer Tony Minichiello have made their opinions clear. Minichiello states the closure of the stadium is ultimately ‘pushing Jess out of the city’.
And that’s what I want to leave on. Most of the training Jessica Ennis-Hill will have done for her to earn the Olympic Gold will most likely have been at Don Valley Stadium. The Sheffield Eagles Rugby League team will have to find a new home. Now that the stadium is gone, we’re cutting the chances of seeing another rising ‘Jessica Ennis-Hill’ at a future Olympics. Personally, I’m deeply saddened to see this monument to Yorkshire, and U.K sport, shut down. But most importantly, how well is the planned ‘Olympic Legacy development’ going to fill the void?