Eagles announce Stadium Plans
Plans to redevelop the site of Don Valley Stadium as a £40m "Sports and Wellbeing Park" have been announced including a new rugby stadium for the Sheffield Eagles.
Don Valley Stadium is set to be closed in September due to council budget cuts and the new proposals are being led by former sports and trade minister Richard Caborn who described the proposed development as the "biggest Olympic legacy project outside of London".
The proposed rugby stadium would be available to be utilised by both the Eagles and Rotherham Titans and be incorporated into a new University Technical College (UTC).
The proposals would mean demolition of the Don Valley Stadium with the site to be levelled along with Flame Hill creating a continuous site of 25 acres adjoining the English Institute of Sport.
Along with the new rugby stadium, it is proposed that new venues would be built for basketball, gymnastics and snooker along with a High Performance Centre linking the critical mass of professional and elite sport on the site to the development of Sheffield Hallam University’s Centre for Sports Engineering Research, developing the Medical Advanced Manufacturing Centre at the AMRC and a new National Centre for Sport and Exercise Medicine.
Partners in the project include both Sheffield Universities, Sheffield Teaching Hospitals, NHS Foundation Trust, the Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), the trust developing University Technical Colleges and Sport England.
All of these partners met on Friday afternoon with Richard Caborn and confirmed their backing for the proposals.
Refurbishing Don Valley Stadium for the purposes of rugby were investigated by independent cost consultants but the costs would be around £7m. The new stadium may cost between £12-£15m based on a 10-12,000 capacity stadium but it is anticipated that this cost can be reduced by innovative design and incorporating standing areas which are a regular feature of rugby stadiums.
Eagles Chairman Ian Swire has taken the time to best answer questions that are likely to be on Eagles supporter’s minds:
(Questions below answered by Ian Swire)
How likely is it you could move into a new stadium in 2015?
Certainly with the plans we have seen and the timetables for stadiums built in the past it is possible. Potentially for one season we would have to look at a separate base. But the feasibility study the city council has announced today will hopefully prove it is possible to be in-situ for the 2015 summer season. Certainly the indications are as such and there are partners on board who are keen to make it happen.
Where will the money come from?
At this stage it is a feasibility study but UTC has indicated that there’s £10m of funds and Sport England have indicated an interest along with other potential public and private sources. Richard Caborn has had a number of discussions with potential funders who have all indicated that the scheme would be eligible for capital funding.
The situation with this stadium is that it’s not intended to be built like a conventional stadium; it is likely to be built as a series of buildings with stadium seats and terraces built into them.
So the running costs of the stadium should hopefully be minimal.
The problem for SIV with Don Valley Stadium is the huge running costs of a building that was never really fit for purpose. It was unsustainable because of the way it was designed for the World Student Games.
The intention with this stadium is to design a building that is fit for purpose as it has been made crystal clear that there will be no subsidy from the City Council and we believe that can be done.
How much involvement would you expect to have in the running of the new stadium?
This will be a stadium that is available to be used seven days a week by the whole community but we will have the first call on it for our match days.
Professional rugby teams are only likely to be playing there once every other week. The sustainability issue is what to do during the time when the stadium is not in use for professional sport, that’s where the community use comes in. With a 4G pitch the stadium will be available 24/7 for the community to utilise and help combat the current obesity problems.
It will be a community stadium probably run by a charitable organisation. The detail will come out in the feasibility study. We (Eagles) can’t afford to underwrite the stadium. A lot of stadiums have been built in this country in the last few years that have not been sustainable without subsidy so we need to reinvent the design of the stadium and that’s what people are looking at.
Could Sheffield Eagles survive one or two seasons without a base?
We believe we can but obviously there’s a lot we need to look at as part of the feasibility study. Our options are to play within the city hopefully but we may have to consider grounds outside the city.
There will be options to get us through that year, it’s unfortunate but we’ll have to adapt to ensure we continue thriving.
The Eagles play some games at Bramall Lane, could that not turn into a more permanent option?
It depends on their pitch; there have been lots of problems with the pitch this season. We cannot expect to get any guarantees from Sheffield United unless they were to relay their pitch with a desso pitch, which is unlikely in the near future due to the cost.
We would hope to be able to play some games there as Kevin McCabe has always been a very supportive partner to the Eagles. Sheffield Eagles have gone through this situation before when Don Valley was being built (1989-90 season) and we got through a season then and we can do it again.
We have to be prepared to play games wherever we can but always as near to Sheffield as possible and hopefully all within Sheffield. There are very few stadiums in the Sheffield area that could possibly take us and we may have to look further afield to get through that season.