Sheffield Eagles have confirmed today that they are leaving they current home, Owlerton Stadium, due to new Rugby Football League ground regulations.
The Eagles moved to Owlerton for the 2014 season after it was announced that their former home, Don Valley Stadium, was going to be demolished. The Eagles were determined to stay within the city of Sheffield and were working to play at the new Sheffield Hallam University facility at Bawtry Road but unfortunately this did not happen and Owlerton Stadium stepped in at the eleventh hour to provide The Eagles with a home within Sheffield.
The Eagles and Owlerton had quite a number of changes to make to ensure that the stadium met RFL minimum standards and there were also some exemptions granted (Eagles were allowed to kick off early because there were no floodlights in place and the in goal areas were smaller than minimum standard). The playing surface was fully renovated, Woodbourn Road athletic stadium’s old portable changing rooms were acquired at short notice and converted for use by visiting teams and an electronic scoreboard was installed.
Owlerton provided excellent corporate hospitality facilities and good car parking and easily coped with the Eagles crowds however, away teams complained about the changing rooms (which were installed by the Eagles) and a number of them made alternative arrangements to get changed before and after the game.
The new RFL regulations have been brought in because four clubs from the Championship will play in a league against Superleague opposition in the end of season Super 8 competition and therefore, the grounds now need to be capable of accommodating evening fixtures for Sky TV. There is also a requirement for a minimum of 1,500 permanent seats.
Sheffield Eagles would like to sincerely thank Owlerton for all their support throughout 2014. An announcement about where Sheffield Eagles will be playing in 2015 will be made as soon as negotiations are concluded and approved by the RFL Board of Directors. A fans forum will be held at The New Barrack Tavern on Tuesday 28th October 2014 at 7pm to update supporters.
John Gilburn, Managing Director, Owlerton Stadium said: “We are proud to have contributed to another important chapter in the history of Sheffield Eagles having stepped in to save the club from leaving the city following the closure of Don Valley Stadium.
“Owlerton hosted the Eagles’ first ever game 30 years ago and, without our support for the 2014 season, Sheffield would have lost one of its most well-loved sporting organisations.
“We would like to wish the Sheffield Eagles all the very best for the future.”