Staff, students, contractors, alumni, honorary doctorates and sporting figures from the city were at Bawtry Road to witness the official opening of the new Sheffield Hallam University Sports Park.
The pavilion was designed by Watson Batty Architects with Ryder Levett Bucknell as the contract administrators, and built by Henry Boot Construction. Project manager John Senior from Estates Development and Sustainability said, ‘It’s great to see a project like this come to fruition. It’s been a real team effort with our own in-house design team, sports staff and students, as well as the architects and contractors.’
The new 22 acre site was officially launched on 6 November by the University’s Vice-Chancellor, Professor Philip Jones. Professor Jones said, ‘Sheffield Hallam is a leader in sports education, and one of the biggest providers of courses in sports education. Sport, in addition, is a core element of the academic and social life of the University, and gives a real sense of belonging to the University. This sports park is one of the best outdoor multi-sports facilities in Yorkshire, and will benefit not only our students, but the community teams that use it as well. We are committed to increasing access to a wide range of high quality sport facilities for both our students and the local community. This has been exemplified recently in both this project and the opening of the Sheffield Hallam City Athletics Stadium at Woodbourn Road.’
The Graham Solley Pavilion gives a heart to the sports park and houses changing rooms, physiotherapy facilities and a social space for students and visiting teams. There is also a balcony for spectators to watch matches while they relax and have refreshments. Graham Solley was appointed the first director of sport and recreation in 1969 for Sheffield Polytechnic. He played and coached basketball and rugby at county level and helped many university teams in their respective national competitions and was instrumental in bringing the World Student Games to Sheffield in 1991. At the opening event, the pavilion was officially named by Graham’s widow, Judith. The sports park has been redeveloped to increase the standard at which the University plays, and increase participation in sport for both Sheffield Hallam students and the local community. The park will predominantly see football, rugby, American football and lacrosse played there with international-standard football and rugby pitches available. Sheffield United Cricket Club will continue to play on the cricket square. The launch event was attended by sporting figures Dickie Bird and Brendan Ingle, and included a women’s first team football match refereed by international football referee Martin Atkinson. To round off a perfect event, Hallam ladies won the match 3–2.
Students are already enjoying the new facilities. Josh Saydraouten, Sports Union officer said, ‘This is such a brilliant facility for our students the finished product is everything we have dreamed of.’ The grounds work, which was carried out by Souter Sports, has already won the coveted BALI National Landscape Award for landscaping of sports facilities.