Owlerton announced as new home of Sheffield Eagles
Owlerton Greyhound Stadium is the new home to the Sheffield Eagles, it was announced today. A two-year agreement sees the rugby league club returning to the venue where it first formed almost 30 years ago.
As part of the deal, the Eagles will play all home fixtures at Owlerton Stadium when the new Championship season kicks off in February 2014.
Sheffield Eagles staged their first ever fixture at Owlerton in September 1984 before leaving five years later following changes to crowd rules.
Ahead of the new season, improvements will be made to the pitch and changing rooms.
The move back to Owlerton, which has a capacity of 6,000, has been supported by Sheffield City Council and backed by the Rugby Football League – the governing body for rugby league in the UK. It follows the closure of the Eagles’ former home, Don Valley Stadium.
To celebrate the move, a special press conference and fans Meet and Greet session will be held at Owlerton Stadium on Wednesday, November 13 at 6.30pm.
John Gilburn, managing director of Owlerton Stadium, said: “We’re delighted to be welcoming the Eagles back home to Owlerton – the place where it all started for the club almost 30 years ago. It is fantastic that we have been able to help the club stay in Sheffield and we look forward to working in partnership to help the Eagles realise their Super League ambitions.”
The Eagles’ first team training sessions and youth matches will continue to take place at Sheffield Hallam University’s sports complex, on Bawtry Road.
Ian Swire, chairman of the Sheffield Eagles, said: “I’d like to thank Sheffield City Council, the Rugby Football League and Owlerton Stadium for their excellent support, ensuring our smooth transition back to our original home at Owlerton Stadium and ensuring that our community work continues within the city.
“Their assistance has crucially ensured we are able to remain in the city of Sheffield which has been our primary objective since the announcement of the closure of Don Valley Stadium.
"We are all highly impressed with the huge improvements in facilities at Owlerton Stadium since we left there in 1989 to move to Don Valley Stadium and I’m sure all of our spectators, old and new, will enjoy the amenities that the stadium has to offer.
“We intend to play our fixtures on Sunday afternoons and look forward to creating a fantastic experience utilising the varied dining opportunities in the restaurants at the stadium to complement the superb entertainment supplied by the back to back Champions on the field.”
Mark Aston, the Head Coach and Chief Executive of the Sheffield Eagles, said: “It’s fantastic that we can announce that we are heading back to Owlerton for at least the next two years.
“We have always undertaken excellent community work within the city of which we are immensely proud and the agreements that we are making allow us to remain within the city, at a great stadium and able to continue our award winning efforts within the community.
“We see a lot of potential in this part of the city with a thriving rugby league community club on the doorstep of Owlerton, Hillsborough Hawks.
"I’m sure many of their players and parents will come down and support us on Sunday afternoons following their morning matches along with those from our other linked community clubs in the area.”
“Owlerton has undergone major refurbishments over the past few years and I’m sure all our loyal fans will continue to support us as we aim to once again defend our Championship title.”
Councillor Isobel Bowler, Cabinet Member for Culture, Sport and Leisure, Sheffield City Council, said: “The Council has worked hard to support the Eagles in recent months. It became clear to us that the club faced two pressing challenges. First - to find a new home venue following confirmation that a move to Bawtry Road wasn't possible and second - a major threat to the club’s valuable community programmes following their recent loss of Sport England funding from the Rugby Football League.
“I'm delighted that the Eagles have now secured their new home at Owlerton and I'm also pleased to confirm that the Council has in principle agreed to rescue the club’s community programmes. Discussions are on-going and we aim to make a joint announcement with the Eagles in the coming weeks.
“The club has acknowledged that Council support for their community programmes is an important part of securing the future of the Eagles in Sheffield.”
Ralph Rimmer, RFL chief operating officer, said: “We are delighted that Sheffield Eagles have been able to conclude arrangements that will see them remain in the city for the foreseeable future.
“Many Rugby League fans will remember Owlerton Stadium from Sheffield’s inaugural season in 1984 and it’s fair to say that both the club and the venue have come a long way in the intervening 30 years.
“The Eagles have forged strong community links throughout the city and South Yorkshire and as defending champions will start the 2014 Kingstone Press Championship season in a stadium which has recently undergone a £1.6m redevelopment.
“I am sure that Eagles supporters and visiting fans will receive a warm welcome at every game at Owlerton Stadium.”
Owlerton Stadium, owned by the A & S Leisure Group, hosts greyhound racing, stock car racing and is home to the Sheffield Tigers Speedway team.