Sheffield Hallam University is preparing to take a leading role in running city sports facilities.
It will staff and maintain Woodbourn Road athletics track, which reopens on Sunday after the closure of nearby Don Valley Stadium.
And Hallam will officially reopen its Tinsley sports ground in Bawtry early next month after a £5m revamp that extends to international standard rugby and football pitches, synthetic pitches and a new sports pavilion. The new name is Sheffield Hallam University Sports Park.
Students will use the redeveloped site, which reflects the strategy of Hallam offering top quality facilities for its large population of sports students. At the same time, Bawtry Road will continue to be available for community use.
For the moment, the focus is on Woodbourn Road.
Renovations costing £325,000 include upgrading the floodlights, deep cleaning the track and relaying the grass infield that was compared to a ‘potato field’ earlier this year by Jessica Ennis’s coach, Toni Minichiello.
He said: “My hope is it would be possible for us to train at Woodbourn Road.”
Local athletics clubs have always seen Woodbourn Road as second best to Don Valley, but are welcoming the upgrade.
Paul Billington, council director of culture, said: “We never said Woodbourn would be the same as Don Valley Stadium – but that’s the reason it is viable to run whereas Don Valley wasn’t. We have a facility which is as good if not better for athletes to train, and it will also be able to host the regular school events that were held at the stadium.”
The £325,000 comprises £150,000 from the council, £150,000, Sport England and £25,000, England Athletics.