27 Oct Ponds Forge enjoys a ‘hugely successful’ reopening
Following a six-month closure due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Ponds Forge International Sports Centre finally re-opened to the public this week.
The Sheffield City Trust-operated venue opened its doors on Monday 26 October 2020 with strict social distancing and hygiene measures in place after receiving financial backing from Sheffield City Council earlier this month.
Sanitising stations, compulsory face coverings in communal areas, one-way systems and capacity monitoring are among the measures which have been put in place to keep customers and staff safe following the venue’s reopening, which Sheffield City Trust’s Chief Executive, Andrew Snelling, described as ‘fantastic news for Sheffield’.
Councillor Mary Lea, Cabinet Member for Culture, Parks and Leisure at Sheffield City Council, said: “I’m thrilled that Ponds Forge has reopened to the public with measures to ensure we are safe and compliant under Tier 3 restrictions.
“Alongside our many green spaces, we’re now able to offer communities across Sheffield the full range of safe places to stay active as the darker nights and winter weather set in. It’s crucial now more than ever that we look after our health and wellbeing.
“I hope families enjoy a mix of healthy activities throughout half term and make the best use of the city we all call home. I’d also like to extend a warm welcome back to the teams who are once again able to make use of the superb facilities on offer here in Sheffield.”
Ponds Forge was to remain closed until at least April 2021 after the trust which runs it said the £1.5m cost of opening it was too expensive.
But, following protests from local swimming clubs, the council’s cabinet unanimously approved plans to spend up to £1.6 million reopening the centre in October 2020.
David Grey, chairman of Sheffield City Trust, which runs the venue, said in a cabinet meeting discussing the venues re-opening: “We have £30 million a year, which is somewhere around £2.6 million of turnover a month, and the turnover has collapsed because we are unable to open our big money spinners, the arena and City Hall. They have been closed since March.
“In respect to the other facilities we have frozen all of our members’ direct debits which is absolutely the right thing to do.
“As we opened the facilities we have taken on very large costs as we believe, and I’m sure you believe, the health of people who come into our buildings is of paramount importance so we put a lot of money in to make sure they are safe.
“In essence we have all of the costs and a third of the revenue.”
The facility, built for the 1991 World Student Games, is used by a number of swimmers and divers who have competed at Olympic games and other international events, as well as the general public.