Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 29 November 2014

Ennis training stadium to close

Sheffield's Don Valley Stadium will be demolished as part of the city council's bid to save millions of pounds
Sheffield's Don Valley Stadium will be demolished as part of the city council's bid to save millions of pounds
Jessica Ennis said the loss of the Don Valley stadium would be a blow to future stars of the track

The stadium where Olympic hero Jessica Ennis was discovered and trains will be closed and demolished as a cost-cutting measure, councillors have decided.

The £29 million Don Valley Stadium in Sheffield is being sacrificed as part of the city council's bid to save millions of pounds after the Government announced sweeping public spending cuts.

The council says the £700,000 it spent subsidising the facility in 2012/13 is unsustainable as the stadium is running at a loss.

Olympic heptathlon gold medallist Ennis trains at the stadium and she was discovered there when she went to a summer holiday athletics club when she was 10.

After her triumph in August, some people called for the Don Valley Stadium to be renamed in her honour. It is also home to the City of Sheffield Athletics Club.

Speaking prior to the council's decision, Ennis said: "I've some amazing memories. I started my athletics career there. Having that iconic stadium in my home city is incredible. And to lose that would be such a shame for future athletes coming through."

The council said it subsidises every visit by more than £5 and it requires major repair and maintenance work - totalling around £1.6 million.

It has proposed the reopening of the track at the smaller Woodbourn Road Stadium nearby.

The 25,000-seat stadium, which was a temporary home to Rotherham United FC for four seasons and has hosted gigs by Michael Jackson, Celine Dion and the Spice Girls, was built as the centrepiece of a £147 million construction programme when Sheffield hosted the 1991 World Student Games.

The funding of the games has provided 20 years of controversy in Sheffield that continues today. Many still criticise the Labour councillors of the time for landing the city with hundreds of millions of pounds of debt that is still being paid off at around £20 million a year and will not be cleared until 2024.

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