PLANNING continues for relocating athletics from Don Valley Stadium to Woodbourn Road from September, despite a growing petition to save the stadium and criticism by Jessica Ennis’s coach, Tony Minichiello.
About 900 names are on an e-petition urging the authority to “promote Don Valley Stadium instead of taking away a source of pride for our city. Closing and demolishing Don Valley will further reduce facilities for training our future medalists and making it harder to promote Sheffield as a great place to live or visit. There is no comparison with Woodbourn Road facilities.”
The council says it has explored all options to keep open Don Valley, but it cannot afford to subsidise what is a national sports stadium with £700,000 from local taxpayers, and to foot a £1.3m repair bill. Former Sheffield MP and Sports Minister Richard Caborn is in national talks to try to keep the site for sport.
Meanwhile, the council is setting aside £150,000 to upgrade Woodbourn Road, which has an athletics track of the same size of Don Valley, and is due to be run by a local athletics club. The authority argues that Woodbourn Road and the English Institute of Sport will still give Sheffield some of the UK’s best athletics facilities.
But Mr Minichello warned that Jess’s performance will suffer without Don Valley.