City’s Olympic celebration runs up a £180,000 bill

CRowds at Don Valley Stadium roar Jess Ennis on to Olympic glory
CRowds at Don Valley Stadium roar Jess Ennis on to Olympic glory

SHEFFIELD’S mixture of sport and music to celebrate the Olympics cost almost £180,000, it was revealed this week.

The money was spent on Sheftival at the Don Valley Stadium, Don Valley Bowl, the English Institute of Sport and the Arena over two days last August to coincide with Jessica Ennis’s final push for a gold medal, which was shown on a giant screen in the stadium.

Sheffield International Venues admitted the costs were higher than predicted, but defended the “investment” in terms of an uptake in people being encouraged to take up sport and to join its membership schemes and the international media coverage.

The cost has proved controversial because some opponents of the council’s plans to close Stocksbridge Leisure Centre claimed it had been shifted to the Stocksbridge account, exaggerating the leisure centre’s financial position. This is vehemently denied by SIV, which gets an annual grant from the council.

In addition, earlier indications from Labour councillors were that Sheftival cost between £10,000 and £20,000.

SIV says the finals account reflect an inevitable uncertainty over how popular an Olympic-themed sports and cultural celebration would be, and other cities have also run up higher costs than they envisaged.

Chief executive Steve Brailey said: “We would have liked to have seen a better financial return on the event. But the investment – which has been at no cost to the local authority or any of our facilities including Don Valley Stadium and Stocksbridge Leisure Centre – brought benefits to the city and the people who live here.

“We staged this unique event in an important sporting year and to highlight city sporting success and opportunities. It brought participation benefits to the general public and allowed us to emphasise the importance of physical activity for people’s health.”

One aim was to introduce new sports to visitors, with sample sessions in boxing, rugby league, athletics, wheelchair basketball, golf, Futsal, judo, taekwondo and table tennis. Sheffield Eagles rugby league club, British Judo, Sheffield Steelers, the gold-winning Russian Olympic rhythmic gymnastics squad lent their support.

About 20,000 people went to the east end on the Saturday and Sunday. Some activities were free and others paid for. Admission was charged to the Don Valley Bowl to see Real Radio main stage stars Lemar, Joe McElderry, Stooshe, Marcus Collins, Misha B, Lawson, Dodgy and the Lightning Seeds.