Words: Andrew Musgrove
Sheffield is still coming to terms with the news that Don Valley Stadium – the venue in which local girl Jessica Ennis trained prior to her Olympic glory – will close in September as part of a cost cutting scheme by Sheffield City Council.
The decision was taken yesterday after the council took a final vote announcing that they could no longer subsidise the £700,000 cost of keeping the stadium open, despite protests from athletic groups around the city and Jessica Ennis herself.
The Olympian champion said: ‘The closure would be a huge shame for the city and demolishing it sends out the wrong message. I understand budgets and costs but I do think we need to find a way of keeping it.’
However it has been confirmed that the venue will be demolished in September in an effort to slash the council’s spending by £50million, something that Councillor Bryan Lodge defended.
‘It is with a very heavy heart that we have arrived at this decision, but we are having to take out £50m from our budget for the next year on top of what has already been saved and it isn’t getting any easier’
But Jessica Ennis’s coach Tony Minichiello has voiced his concerns over the closure and the lasting effects it will have on athletics for the city of Sheffield.
‘Athletics is pretty close to being dead in Sheffield because of this decision. The children of Sheffield have got no future because when Jess started she had the Don Valley stadium where, yes, we could train outdoors but there was also a smaller indoor area which we could use that made us fairly weatherproof’
The coach who spoke at the final meeting also indicated that Ennis’s chance of successfully defending her title would be at risk – ‘We’re going to be all right for this coming season because it’s open, but any sort of move towards the next Olympic games and retaining Jess’s title has been dealt a hefty, hefty blow’
The council have spoken of plans to refurbish the city’s Woodburn Road Athletic Stadium however that is unlikely to please athletic fans of Sheffield.
What are you thoughts on the closing of Don Valley Stadium? Let us know at @SHUlifeNews
(All quotes taken from BBC5Live)