Remembering Don Valley Stadium
A short history of Don Valley Stadium and some personal memories
Work was completed on the stadium in September 1990 ahead of the World Student Games which were to be held there in July 1991.
The grandstand could hold 10,000 spectators with capacity for a further 15,000 in open air terrace seating. The whole of the athletic running track and infield was lit up by floodlights. The track was designed and built sunken 16 feet below ground level resulting in it being sheltered, thus giving ideal viewing conditions for the crowd and the athletes the ability to produce peak performances.
In addition to being a sporting venue Don Valley was also used as an open air concert facility with a 15,000 seating area and room for a further 50,000 standing. The first concert was in 1993 when Sheffield band Def Leppard performed there. Other major stars followed, such as Bon Jovi, U2, The Rolling Stones, Tina Turner, The Red Hot Chili Peppers, Michael Jackson, Celine Dion and The Spice Girls.
Don Valley was the training base of the City of Sheffield Athletics Club and held the Sheffield Half Marathon. Rotherham United played their home league games there between 2008 – 2012 when the New York Stadium was being completed. Sheffield FC and Sheffield Wednesday Ladies also for a time played at Don Valley and American football was held at the stadium between 1999 – 2007.
The celebrity sports show The Games also used the facilities at Don Valley as part of its filming.
A home for the Sheffield Eagles
In 1991 Don Valley Stadium was the new home of Sheffield Eagles.The club’s record attendance was set in August 1997 when a crowd of 10,603 watched The Eagles play Bradford Bulls.
At the time, the World Student Games was the largest sporting event to be held in the United Kingdom since the 1948 summer Olympics and the only time the event has taken place in the UK. More than 3,000 athletes took part from 101 nations. Hyde Park flats in Sheffield were refurbished and used to house the athletes village. Three new venues were purpose built, all on land which had previously been industrial works in Sheffield - Don Valley, Ponds Forge and Sheffield Arena.
I can clearly remember attending the opening ceremony and being in awe of the grand spectacle of it all, seeing the athletes proudly parade around the track carrying flags to represent their countries, I had never seen anything like it before. There was a wonderful atmosphere in Don Valley and Sheffield as a whole at that time as the city got behind the event to support it.
As a spectator, I attended the swimming and diving at Ponds Forge and also badminton which was held at a local sports facility close to where I lived at the time, but it was Don Valley which I loved the best. There was something about the venue unlike anything I had experienced before which I think the athletes and spectators alike could appreciate.
The World Student Games and Don Valley Stadium have remained fondly in my memory and hopefully also in the memories of the competitors who spent a couple of weeks in Sheffield in July 1991.
Share your memories
If anyone else has any memories of what made Don Valley Stadium special to them please do get in touch and let us know, it would be lovely to hear your stories and to remember this special place. Contact us HERE.