A NEW community stadium and college on the site of Sheffield’s demolished Don Valley is set to keep its sporting legacy alive.
Project leaders say the Olympic Legacy Park will “create a new labour force for the health and wellbeing sector”.
Plans for sports pitches, a university technical college and sports engineering buildings have been drawn up to sit alongside a new £16m “superschool” on part on the land, due to open in September next year.
The site, once home to the 25,000-capacity stadium which nurtured the talents of Olympic gold medallist Jessica Ennis-Hill, will also provide a new home for the city’s rugby league side, Sheffield Eagles. The Sheffield Sharks basketball team is also in talks about a possible move to the venue.
Sheffield-born Olympian Lord Coe has given his backing to the scheme as the funding bid is prepared.
Former Sheffield MP and Sports Minister Richard Caborn said: “Sheffield has established itself as a lead in high-value manufacturing and now we want to do the same for health and wellness. The city could be the first in the UK to have this sort of focus.
“The council, the universities and the hospital trust are working together on this.
“Seb Coe has met with us and given us support. It forms part of the Olympic legacy.”
Representatives from Sheffield Council, Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and Hallam University are due to meet with the Department of Education and the Baker Dearing Trust next month.
They are seeking £9m for the proposed community stadium. A decision is expected in October.
Mr Caborn said the focus on the community use of the stadium means that it will avoid meeting the same fate as Don Valley.
Sheffield Council’s decision to close and demolish the venue was met with outcry from members of the public when it was announced in January last year.
A new athletics facility leased to Sheffield Hallam University was opened as a replacement last October.
Mr Caborn said: “Big stadiums are costly things.
“No one ever actually watched Jessica Ennis run around that track, even though she did many times. Why would you keep nearly 30,000 seats costing £250,000 every year when they are empty?
“I think once people will look at it logically when they see the facts and how it will be better used.”
Proposals for the Don Valley site come following the announcement that Sheffield is to be one of three UK cities to be made a National Sports and Exercise Medicine Centre of Excellence.
Improvements to existing facilities across the city are already being carried out as part of the project, with a new swimming pool and leisure centre planned for the north of Sheffield. It is hoped the Don Valley sports campus could provide the main headquarters for the national centre.
The chief executive of Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Sir Andrew Cash, said: “Sheffield is well-placed for this. It has world class sport and medical facilities complemented by world class research and educational programmes at its two universities and award-winning public health and voluntary sector programmes.”