Professional rugby league is returning to Sheffield.
From next season, the Sheffield Eagles’ new permanent home will be the 3G pitch at the city’s Olympic Legacy Park.
The return to the city of their birth ends a four-year exile for the Eagles and the prospect of a “very exciting future” according to Chairman Chris Noble.
The Eagles have been playing at the Belle Vue in Wakefield, approximately 25 miles outside of Sheffield, this year.
The announcement comes following extensive discussions between representatives of Legacy Park Ltd, Sheffield City Council and the Eagles.
Legacy Park Ltd is a joint venture between Sheffield Hallam University, Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and Sheffield City Council.
The Sheffield Eagles currently play in the Kingstone Press Championship, the second-tier competition organised by the Rugby Football League, the governing body for the sport in the UK.
The league consists of 12 teams with promotion to the Super League and relegation to the third-tier competition, League 1.
Mr Noble expressed his delight now that Sheffield Eagles are able to return home after their move to the Olympic Park Legacy was delayed because of ongoing building work.
“There has been a massive effort from everyone concerned to get us over the line. It has been extremely hard to bring to fruition but we have succeeded,” he said.
“We are back in the city where we should be.”
Cllr Mary Lea, Cabinet Member at Sheffield City Council, said: “We are delighted that Sheffield Eagles will be back playing in the city, we have worked with Richard Caborn and the Olympic Legacy Park to secure funding for and develop a new multi-purpose, state of the art pitch for professional, community and educational use, which will be a great asset for Sheffield.”
Richard Caborn, Project Lead from Legacy Park Ltd, created to develop the Olympic Legacy Park, added: “We have been involved in many discussions which have led to this positive outcome for the Eagles, the city and the Olympic Legacy Park. I am delighted for the Club and the city.”
For the next 12 months, Pulse will manage the use of the pitch. Arrangements will be in place which will satisfy the Rugby League in respect of the required number of temporary seating, toilets, security, PA systems and other match day facilities.
“In the longer term, we will see the development of a stand with a capacity of 3,000 on one side and other semi-permanent stands on the other three sides,” said Mr Noble.
“We are so happy to be back in the city of our birth after what has been an extremely difficult and worrying time.”
The Olympic Park is a 35-acre site that includes the English Institute of Sport Sheffield (EISS), iceSheffield, Altitude, Don Valley Bowl, UTC Sheffield Olympic Legacy Park campus and Oasis Academy Don Valley.
It will also be home to the Advanced Wellbeing Research Centre (AWRC) offices, basketball arena, hotel, and a new park environment including running and cycling paths and green open spaces.
Eagles season tickets will be going on sale shortly.