Select Committee on Culture, Media and Sport Minutes of Evidence

Memorandum submitted by Sheffield City Council and Sheffield International Venues



  1.1  In response to the request for written evidence by the Culture, Media and Sport Committee Sheffield's submission will focus on the following areas:

    —  background to Sheffield's involvement in Athletics and the development of its major sports facilities;

    —  the bid for staging the World Championships in Athletics (WCA) and the development of a National Stadium;

    —  Sheffield's involvement with the Carter Review; and

    —  the case for Sheffield as a suitable host venue for the 2005 World Championships in Athletics.


  2.1  In the late 1980's and early 1990's Sheffield invested £139 million in high quality state of the art sports facilities. This included £29 million for the development of Don Valley Stadium. The annual capital loan repayments and revenue costs are met by Sheffield City Council.

  2.2  The facilities were completed in time for Sheffield to stage the 1991 World Student Games (WSG). The event was the largest multi-sport event to have taken place in Great Britain for many years and the consensus of opinion was that the Games were very well run. Primo Nebiolo, the late President of the IAAF, congratulated Sheffield on the way the Games were organised.

  2.3  Since 1990 the city has staged over 400 National and International events. This programme of events has included:

    —  17 World Championships;

    —  15 European Championships;

    —  70 International Championships; and

    —  47 different sports in 25 different venues.

        (Annex 1 lists some of the significant events that have taken place during this period.)

  2.4  To deliver such an extensive programme the city has developed the infrastructure required to stage these prestigious events and has resulted in the city gaining a world-wide reputation for staging sports events across numerous national and international governing bodies.

  2.5  Additions to the facility portfolio in the city will include a Regional Network Centre of the English Institute of Sport (EIS) (including indoor athletic facilities linked directly to the stadium) and the National Ice Centre (NIC). These along with the existing Don Valley Stadium, Sheffield Arena, Don Valley Bowl and Woodbourn Athletics Stadium will provide one of the highest concentrations of world-class sports facilities in the world.

  2.6  The Don Valley Stadium is owned by Sheffield City Trust and managed by Sheffield International Venues.

  2.7  Since 1990 the stadium has been the host venue for athletics events that support the development of athletics through to IAAF Grand Prix 1 meetings. (Annex 2 details the events that have taken place during this period at the stadium.)

  2.8  From 1990 through to 1998 Don Valley Stadium was allocated an annual international fixture by the governing body. These included IAAF permit meetings, Grand Prix 2 and Grand Prix 1 events.

  2.9  During this period, each year the stadium achieved the highest attendance for athletics events in this country. This included three capacity crowds of 25,000, the highest recorded in this country post the London Olympics.

  2.10  In 1998 UK Athletics (UKA) assigned the marketing rights and the operational delivery of the international fixtures to Fast Track. Between 1999 and 2001 Sheffield has not been allocated an international fixture by Fast Track. Sheffield along with other stadium owners (who have been staging these events) have raised concerns to UKA over the allocation of fixtures and the effect that this may have on the future of their stadiums.


  3.1  We are not clear on when the decision was made to bid for the staging of the WCA in London. However in selecting a potential host venue we are not aware of any consideration towards existing athletics stadiums or the impact the event may have on them. If there was any consideration then there was certainly no direct consultation with Sheffield or Don Valley Stadium.

  3.2  The WCA has previously been held in cities of a comparable size to Sheffield ie Seville, Gothenburg, Stuttgart, Helsinki and Edmonton.

  3.3  It was announced that the proposal was to stage the event on a platform at the National Stadium, Wembley. This would then be removed after the event. Sheffield was happy to support the Wembley proposals as we anticipated the event would provide a positive impact on athletics in the following years.

  3.4  Following the decision to remove athletics from the Wembley development, proposals were made to establish a National Stadium for Athletics at Picketts Lock. This caused concern in Sheffield and other cities that the development would undermine the viability of other athletic facilities in the country. To justify a National Stadium it was likely that all the premier events and many others would be allocated to the venue.

  3.5  At a meeting on 6 April at the UK Athletics offices in Birmingham representatives from Picketts Lock presented their development plans to the owners of Stadiums in Gateshead, Birmingham and Sheffield.

  3.6  We considered that the development of Picketts Lock may not actually provide a legacy and catalyst for the development of the sport. In fact the opposite may occur, as there was a possibility of a reduction in the number of facilities for Athletics. Facility owners would have to seriously consider the investment they put into their facilities if they had no clear and certain future. Both Birmingham and Gateshead shared our concerns. The concerns were passed on to UKA and they attempted to work with the current facility owners to find a new mechanism for allocating events pre and post the development of a National Stadium.

  3.7  It was also apparent to us that there were potential funding, infrastructure and planning difficulties for the developers of Picketts Lock to overcome. In May 2001 we looked at the cost of developing Don Valley and the surrounding area to the same specification that would be developed at Picketts Lock. The cost of this was identified as £20 million. This information was not circulated.

  3.8  In early July Sport England deferred consideration of the Lottery application for Picketts Lock and asked Patrick Carter to carry out a review.


  4.1  The terms of reference for the review included an assessment of alternative locations for the WCA should the Picketts Lock development not proceed. Sheffield forwarded details of its potential as a venue for the event to the Review team and subsequently we received visits to the stadium on four separate occasions.

  4.2  The first two visits provided the opportunity for members of the review team to look at the facilities available at the stadium and the proposals for the support facilities in Sheffield.

  4.3  Following these initial visits we supplied additional information to the review team on the following:

    —  the ownership and management of the Stadium and surrounding facilities;

    —  Sheffield's events experience and infrastructure;

    —  accommodation available in the city and within one hour's drive. This included detail of accommodation for competitors;

    —  detail of ancillary facilities in the Lower Don Valley adjacent to the stadium;

    —  transportation and parking details;

    —  population figures of Sheffield and surrounding areas;

    —  detail and pictures of existing facilities at Don Valley Stadium;

    —  details of the proposed development of Don Valley and costs to meet the specification identified for Picketts Lock; and

    —  copies of brochures showing details of Sheffield Arena, Meadowhall Shopping Complex, Sheffield and its region, the High Peak including the Chatsworth Estate.

  4.4  Subsequent visits by the review team provided detailed questioning on the information we provided and issues arising from them.

  4.5  Following the first two visits from the Review team we made the decision to send the Head of the Sheffield Major Events Team on a fact finding visit to the Championships in Edmonton, Canada. In our view his report confirmed that Sheffield was capable of staging the event of 2005.

  4.6  Our position throughout this process has been to provide as clear information as possible about Sheffield, the facilities we have available and the suitability of these for staging the 2005 WCA. We recognise that this would only be relevant if Picketts Lock was not seen as a viable venue for delivering the event and in turn that the IAAF accept Sheffield as a suitable host venue.

  4.7  Following the submission of the Carter report to the Government we have received a further visit from representatives of DCMS and Sport England requesting clarification of the Sheffield offer. It was made clear to us that no decision on Picketts Lock had been taken. We were made aware of the decision not to proceed with Picketts Lock and to propose Sheffield as an alternative host city for the WCA on the morning of Thursday 4 October.


  5.1  There are many reasons why Sheffield would be a suitable host city for staging this event. Some of these have already been identified and include:

  5.2  Experience—The significant experience and expertise that already exists in the city for delivering major events. This includes not only sports events (see Annex 1 examples) for but also the very best in the music and entertainment industry.

  5.3  The Venue—Don Valley Stadium is a venue that has already hosted international athletics to capacity crowds. With investment of £20 million it can provide the facilities suitable to meet the requirements of IAAF and for staging the World Championships. It would also provide suitable facilities to host the events identified by UKA after the staging of the 2005 WCA.

  5.4  Facilities would be completed and ready by the end of 2004 allowing suitable time for test events if required.

  5.5  The revenue funding required for the stadium is already in place and guaranteed by the City Council through to 2024.

  5.6  The Stadium has hosted numerous concerts that have attracted an attendance of over 50,000 people. As a result the infrastructure for traffic management, licensing, emergency procedures etc are already in place. They have been tried, tested and delivered.

  5.7  With the concentration of facilities that already exist in the Lower Don Valley plus the development of the ESI and NIC, the requirements from the event for media, IAAF, sponsors etc can be catered or on-site in the appropriate manner.

  5.8  The Location—The central location of Sheffield in the UK plus that of Don Valley Stadium in relation to the M1 (1 mile) provides an accessible location to attract capacity crowds. Over seven million people live within a one-hour drive of the stadium. It is also ideally placed for visitors to the city and country to see the very best of what the country has to offer.

  5.9  The Volunteers—the network and database that has become essential for delivering an event of this size was developed for the WSG in 1991. This has become an essential component in the city delivering over 400 national and international events during this period.

  5.10  Accommodation—there are over 50,000 beds available within a one hour drive of the stadium. This includes over 4,500 4*/5* spaces.

  5.11  Athlete's Accommodation—Facilities at the University of Sheffield and surrounding hotels provide an ideal setting for the athletes villages with over 3,000 beds available.

  5.12  Cultural Programmes and Festivals—These have become an essential part of delivering major events. Extensive programmes for the WSG, Euro 96 and the Millennium celebrations along with the annual festivals that already take place in the city means the city is ideally placed to deliver the required programmes.

  5.13  Sheffield has shown a significant commitment to the provision of athletics facilities and the development of the sport over the past 11 years. This can be demonstrated by over £30 million of capital investment and over £8 million of revenue costs.


  6.1  Sheffield is committed (and has been throughout) to work with Sport England, UK Sport, UK Athletics and the DCMS to find the best solution for hosting the World Championships in Athletics 2005.

  6.2  We believe that this solution should meet the Best Value principals and provide a lasting legacy for the development of Athletics. It should also recognise the role that the other major athletics facilities in the United Kingdom have played and the investment made by them in the development of the sport and the staging of showcase Athletics events.

  6.3  Don Valley Stadium and the City of Sheffield can achieve this. The development of facilities at the Stadium would make Sheffield an ideal host city to stage the 2005 World Championships in Athletics. It also provides the most suitable option available at the present time for staging the event in this country.

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Prepared 20 November 2001