Mark Aston outlines Super League vision as Sheffield Eagles unveil new stadium plans
The multi-purpose facility will be based at the former Sheffield Transport Sports Club site at Meadowhead, on the other side of the city to the Eagles' current home in Attercliffe.
The Championship club ended their nine-year exile from the city when they moved into the Olympic Legacy Park in May 2022 and are now ready to take the next step in pursuit of Super League.
"We've got a vision of where we want to go and the current home wouldn't hit the standards for Super League," Aston told The Yorkshire Post.
"That is the big thing. Yes we've got a home and we're back in Sheffield and it's been great for us – there's no doubt about it – but the long-term vision of this club is to bring Super League back to the big city.
"Knowing that can't happen where we are now is the thought process behind the new stadium.
"You want to be in control of your own destiny, don't you? To have a facility that is ours is going to be massive for the vision of the club."
The joint venture with Sheffield FC – the world's oldest football club – will encompass a cricket pavilion, a football museum and an indoor community sports hall, as well as rugby league and football facilities that will adhere to Super League and Football League criteria.
A full planning application is set to be submitted in January with the aim of completing the project in time for the start of the 2025-26 football season.
If everything goes to plan, the Eagles would begin the 2026 campaign in their new home.
The plans are a show of ambition ahead of the rollout of IMG's new grading system at the end of 2024.
Sheffield were given an initial ranking of 22nd but now have a roadmap as they bid to end their long stay in the lower leagues.
"It takes time to build," said Aston, who was part of the last Eagles side to play in Super League in 1999.
"We're not one of those clubs that are going to say 'destination Super League'. That's not us.
"Our vision is to play at the highest level but there's a hell of a lot of work to go into that.
"Under IMG, facilities are paramount. There will be bars and corporate facilities because to make clubs sustainable, you've got to generate revenue.
"What we're talking about here is 'Club Sheffield' with football, rugby league and cricket together using the facilities 24/7 all year.
"If you've got the right facilities, it's more than a game. We've had that in the past and it's what we need again."
The project will be self-funded and continues the investment in sport in Sheffield.
Ten years after the demolition of Don Valley Stadium, the Olympic Legacy Park sits on the same site with a £14million privately-funded basketball arena.
The Eagles will always have an attachment to Attercliffe but Aston sees a better future for the club at Meadowhead.
"To progress and develop, you need everything on one site," he said.
"You need gyms, training pitches and to make it a home. This gives us an opportunity to do that.
"It's not just about the men. There will be a facility for our wheelchair team to use for their games and a training pitch for the women and men.
"Ultimately we're going to be setting up our own performance structure so will have more scope to have them all on one base and integrated. We've always had a 'one club' mentality.
"The day that first shovel is put in the ground is going to be a big day."