‘Heartbreak’ at Sheffield stadium demise

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The demolition of Sheffield’s Don Valley Stadium has ‘broken the heart’ of sports star Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson.

Work to dismantle the Attercliffe venue – where London 2012 Olympic heptathlon champion Jessica Ennis-Hill trained – began yesterday following its closure in September.

Demolition begins on the Don Valley Stadium, Sheffield. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday November 21, 2013. The decision was taken to close the stadium as part of Sheffield City Council's attempts to save �50 million next year. See PA story SPORT Stadium. Photo credit should read: Joe Giddens/PA Wire

Demolition begins on the Don Valley Stadium, Sheffield. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday November 21, 2013. The decision was taken to close the stadium as part of Sheffield City Council's attempts to save �50 million next year. See PA story SPORT Stadium. Photo credit should read: Joe Giddens/PA Wire

Nearly 6,000 people had signed a petition calling for it to be kept open, but Sheffield Council pressed ahead with its closure and workmen moved in yesterday to begin pulling it down.

However, 11-time Paralympic champion Baroness Grey-Thompson said: “It breaks my heart to see Don Valley shut because I trained and competed there.

“It is a massive shame for Sheffield because of the history of the stadium.

“I hoped they might be able to find some way of making it pay for itself, but that has not happened.”

The £29 million venue was built for the 1991 World Student Games and went onto host Rotherham United football matches and music concerts, but struggled financially.

Baroness Grey-Thompson said: “It was fantastic facility, a fast track with good roads to train on in the area.

“It is such a shame because there were so many memories there.

“Facilities are a big part of an athlete’s performance, but we have to take a rational proactive look.

“We can’t keep tipping money into things that are not financially viable.

“We have to be smarter in terms of multi-sport facilities, such as where they are built and the size.

“It wasn’t working and therefore it was not sustainable. It is hard, because sports facilities need a lot of money, so we have to be sensible with how we use it.”

Coun Isobel Bowler, council cabinet member for sport and leisure, said it had been a difficult decision to close the stadium, but there was no alternative.

She said: “If we had not closed Don Valley Stadium we would have had to close a number of other leisure facilities across the city.”