Don Valley set for redevelopment
Plans for a new athletics stadium in Sheffield have been given the thumbs up by Toni Minichiello, coach of Olympic champion Jessica Ennis.
A refurbished Woodburn Road athletics track was unveiled on Tuesday morning as part of a major redevelopment of the condemned Don Valley Stadium, where Ennis took up the sport and still trains.
The decision to close and demolish the £29million Don Valley Stadium as part of council cost-cutting measures drew criticism from Minichiello, as well as Ennis, but he has given the new plans a warm welcome. "Certainly from the athletics point of view, I think it's a superb plan," he said.
"You are looking at a substantially larger investment into the Woodburn Road track and an indoor facility there, which is more than I could have hoped for. It would have been lovely to keep the stadium but last week there was no future for athletics in Sheffield and now there is - I think it gives us a real future for athletics in Sheffield."
The Woodburn Road proposal is part of a £40million development to transform the Don Valley area. It includes a high-performance centre and new homes for Sheffield Eagles and Titans rugby clubs, but the Woodburn Road plan is for a stand-alone athletics facility.
"We are talking about 2,000 seats," Minichiello said. "I think it's incredibly practical. It gives us an athletics site, it's not a shared site.
"We've had difficulties in the past when it comes to sharing facilities with rugby and other sports but now we're going to have a venue that is purely for athletics. Let's hope the feasibility study comes together and we can make it happen."
Ennis, who was crowned Laureus World Sportswoman of the Year in Rio on Monday night, has pledged her support to the development.
"If you see Woodburn Road at the moment, it is in a terrible state and it needs to be done properly," she said. "It needs a lot of work doing to it, but if we get the funding to do it, it will be good.
"I'm looking forward to hearing more about it and seeing how it develops and what it is going to be like. I am happy to have input and offer bits of advice where I can."