Venues operator ‘thrilled’ by post lockdown recovery

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Sheffield City Trust is reporting a boom in business as it opened all its venues without restrictions for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic began in March 2020.

Large visitor attractions and facilities such as Ponds Forge and the Utilita Arena Sheffield have suffered with customers prevented from taking part in sporting activities or watching shows because of Government restrictions.

However, figures released this week the by the Trust, which manages 13 sporting and entertainment venues across the city, show that due to “prudent management” there has been a saving of £4m on what was estimated was needed to ensure the facilities were able to open fully again.

Andrew Snelling, chief executive of Sheffield City Trust, said: “The past 18 months have been challenging for many businesses worldwide, and we were pleased to have financial support to help us through these times.

“We are delighted that the amount of money required to maintain our levels of service is nowhere near what estimates were saying.

“Despite lockdown restrictions meaning our venues were closed to customers, we generated revenues of £6m.

“The strong management of the organisation by our executive team and the hard work of everyone involved with Sheffield City Trust during the pandemic ensured we focused on our core facilities, ending contracts with venues that were loss-making due to the pandemic and maximising income from external funding to minimise impact on taxpayer funding.

“Our estate is primarily at least 20 years old – some such as the City Hall are approaching 90 years of age – and with that comes a big responsibility for maintaining buildings as well as hosting world-class events within them.

“Long-term maintenance issues caused by years of austerity are being resolved following agreement with Sheffield City Council to ensure our leisure facilities continue to provide the people of Sheffield with value for money activities which are in high demand.

“Over the past few weeks, we have over 70,000 customers watching world-class artists at the Arena and City Hall as well as thousands of others taking part in sport at Ponds Forge, iceSheffield, Hillsborough Leisure Centre and the English Institute of Sport Sheffield, to name just six of our venues.

“We take our responsibility as guardians of Sheffield’s sporting and entertainment venues very seriously so we’re thrilled they have bounced back so positively after months of enforced closure.”

David Grey, chair of trustees for Sheffield City Trust, said: “At a time when every penny of council taxpayers money is rightly scrutinised it is very pleasing to be able to say that we are saving money due to decisions made by the Trust.

“The venues are extremely busy with record-breaking numbers attending concerts and shows and participating in activities as varied as golf and learn to skate programmes.”

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