Video: ‘World-class’ future for Don Valley site

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A ‘WORLD-CLASS’ sports research centre will form part of a £50m community stadium development on the site of Sheffield’s former Don Valley Stadium.

The Olympic Legacy Park, unveiled by former sports minister Richard Caborn yesterday, will also provide a home for the Sheffield Eagles rugby league club, Sheffield Sharks basketball team, a hotel, college and a new school.

Artist's impressions of the new community stadium and Olympic Legacy Park, to be built on the former Don Valley Stadium site

Artist's impressions of the new community stadium and Olympic Legacy Park, to be built on the former Don Valley Stadium site

The Advanced Wellbeing Research Centre (AWRC) will mirror the city’s £150m Advanced Manufacturing Park and will house 50 researchers carrying out research on most sports. It will work with the National Centre for Sport and Exercise Medicine (NCSEM) as a ‘field lab’ for the testing of new innovations.

The Park, a joint venture between Sheffield Hallam University, Sheffield Teaching Hospitals, Sheffield City Council and the private sector, has attracted nearly £40m of investment and a further £10m is being sought from the Regional Growth Fund.

Mr Caborn, who is the project leader, said the Park would take the city’s heritage “into a modern setting.”

“This project has three clear objectives. We will deliver a multi-sports community stadium which can accommodate professional sports and will wash its face financially,” he said.

“Through the AWRC, we will bring academia, the medical profession and the full spread of physical activity across the city, from sedentary lifestyles to elite and professional athletes. In the words of Lord Coe, Sheffield will undertake world-class research and provide services that will deliver long-term, systematic change to benefit the health of the nation. Finally, we will deliver knowledge, intellectual property and practical development of products and services to the wealth creating sectors of health, wellbeing and sports sectors with the Sheffield City region.”

Demolition work on the 25,000-capacity Don Valley Stadium, which nurtured the talents of Olympic gold medallist Jessica Ennis-Hill, began last November.

It had been the home to the Sheffield Eagles, who feared losing the site would be a “terminal blow” to the club. It secured £6m of funding towards the main stand, which will also house the hotel and university technical college, specialising in human sciences and digital technologies.

Ian Anniss, Eagles’ Director of Community, Development and Education, said the new 2,500 seat stadium would allow them to “survive and thrive”.

He said: “The new stadium will be like no other in this country, in that it will be designed and managed to have multiple uses that reflect the needs of the broader community as well as being a top class facility for performance rugby of both codes.”

It is hoped the indoor arena, with three full-size courts and seating for 3,000 people, will attract further events to the city.

The first phase of the project will open in September 2015, with the opening of the primary section of the school, which will eventually cater for children aged from 2 to 16, and the university technical college.

Sheffield Chamber of Commerce executive director Richard Wright said the commercial opportunities associated with the park were “possibly one of the biggest opportunities Sheffield has seen for years.”