UK & World News
Jessica Ennis Makes Don Valley Stadium Appeal
Olympic gold medallist Jessica Ennis has made an eleventh-hour appeal to save the stadium that helped to inspire her.
Councillors are expected to approve closure of the Don Valley Stadium at a budget meeting today.
It is where the sports star perfected her athletic prowess as a youngster and where she still trains.
The heptathlete was discovered on a summer schools training camp at the Sheffield stadium and thousands watched her charge to Olympic glory on a big screen inside the venue.
But despite the heptathlete's objections it looks likely that councillors will approve a plan to bulldoze the building.
Ennis said: "It would be a huge shame.
"I've got some amazing memories, starting my athletic career there and having that iconic stadium in my home city is incredible.
"To lose that would be such a shame for future athletes coming through, so I hope that the right decision's made and we can find a way to keep it."
Councillors in Sheffield have been accused of squandering the Olympic legacy but they say the 22-year-old stadium is often empty and needs major refurbishment that the city cannot afford.
The Labour-controlled council argues that it has to save £50m as a result of Government budget cuts and if the venue remained open local leisure centres would have to close instead.
Councillor Isobel Bowler said: "We have to choose where we put our money. If we kept this stadium open we might have to shut two or three or possibly even four local leisure centres. That's not the way to preserve the Olympic legacy."
Deputy Prime Minister and Sheffield MP Nick Clegg has urged the city council to keep the stadium open.
The sporting community is also strongly opposed to its closure.
Jessica Ennis' coach Toni Minichiello has invested many years of nurturing young talent at Don Valley and accuses the local authority of short-sightedness.
He told Sky News: "It is an iconic stadium and its a place that has inspired youngsters and none more so than Jessica Ennis.
"It is a fantastic facility and it is an incredible shame to lose something like this from the sporting map.
"Having taken the youngsters all the way through to Olympic gold you see that this actually can be done in Sheffield.
"Why, if you can have one Jessica Ennis, can you not have two or three?
"That opportunity all of a sudden looked to be there and now it's going to be taken away from a whole new generation of youngsters."
The local authority says the building costs £700,000 a year to run.
It aims to redevelop the nearby Woodbourn athletics stadium - an older building that has been mothballed for a few years. That would cost approximately £100,000.
The Don Valley stadium was opened in 1991 to host the World Student Games in the hope that it would help revitalise the largely derelict east end of Sheffield.
The full cost of staging the event is not due to be paid off until 2024.