Millions of memories as Sheffield venues celebrate 25 years - tell us YOURS

Alex Turner of the Arctic Monkeys. Photo: Danny Lawson/PA Wire

Alex Turner of the Arctic Monkeys. Photo: Danny Lawson/PA Wire

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IT’S amazing where the time goes when you’re having fun - and a whopping 60 MILLION of us had just that over the past 25 years at three iconic Sheffield venues.

Today we are looking back as silver jubilee celebrations get underway at Sheffield Arena, Ponds Forge International Sports Centre and Hillsborough Leisure Centre, which all opened in 1991.

Their birthday gift back to the steel city is news that they have generated over £500 million between them to the region’s economy.

Now we are after your special memories - details below.

VIDEO: Watch a special video report about 25 years at Ponds Forge - CLICK HERE.

You may have been at the first ever concert at the £34 million Sheffield Arena, which was opened by Her Majesty The Queen on May 30, 1991 ahead of Paul Simon’s Born at the Right Time tour.

Over 16 million of us have since visited the 13,000-seater arena, which has hosted more than 3,000 events.

Many of you may have met there for the first time, fallen in love and returned years later with your own kids, or now grand kids.

Or you may have seen your idols play that stage, including our home grown connections including Arctic Monkeys, Joe Cocker, Pulp, Def Leppard, One Direction, Iron Maiden, Heaven 17, Human League, ABC, Reverend and the Makers and Richard Hawley.

Biggest names to played there reads like a who’s who of all time greats such Oasis, who played their first ever arena gig at the Arena in April 1995, Tina Turner, who played her last ever show there in 2009, Stevie Wonder, Luciano Pavarotti, Paul McCartney, Elton John, Billy Joel, Neil Diamond, Bruce Springsteen, David Bowie, Bob Dylan, The Who, Beach Boys and Michael Buble.

It goes on and on...Prince, Whitney Houston, Take That, Duran Duran, Meat Loaf, Shirley Bassey, Justin Timberlake, Diana Ross, Lady GaGa and Kanye West,just to mention a few.

Then of course it has hosted amazing shows and events from Disney On Ice to Batman Live, Riverdance, Jeff Wayne’s Musical Version of The War of the Worlds, Cirque du Soleil, Jesus Christ Superstar and who can forget BBC Sports Personality of the Year 2009, when our Olympic golden girl Jess Ennis-Hill was honoured.

Global icons Justin Bieber, Lionel Richie, Andrea Bocelli and Bryan Adams are next - they will form part of this year’s celebrations - they will all perform at the Arena this year.

The GB Rio 2016 diving trials, ASA Masters and Summer and Special Olympics GB’s National Summer Games will be hosted at the two sports venues.

Sheffield’s £53 million Olympic-standard Ponds Forge, which remains one of the world’s best aquatics, sport, leisure and events venues, has welcomed more than 25 million people since it was opened by HRH Princess Anne on April 17, 1991.

It has been home to the Roundhouse Nightclub, Last Laugh Comedy Club and Sheffield Sharks basketball team and acts as a training base for GB swimmers and divers.

Following a recent multi-million refurbishment, the Fitness Unlimited gym at Ponds Forge, voted number one in the city by readers of The Star, is now home to a UK-first Technogym spin bike studio and virtual riding system, a Wellness System and MyWellness Cloud equipment and an innovative Prama system, which brings the gym’s floors and walls to life to create an energetic and motivating atmosphere.

SIV has also announced invested in a new Daktronics HD scoreboard for use at Ponds Forge aquatics events.

Also opening its doors that very same day back in 1991 was Hillsborough Leisure Centre, which has been visited by 18 million people and delivered more than 1.2 million swimming lessons.

With over 5,000 Fitness Unlimited members, it is home to one of Sheffield’s most popular gyms offering over 100 fitness classes each week for all ages and abilities.

It runs an award-winning GP Physical Activity Referral Scheme and is Inclusive Fitness Initiative-accredited for disabled users, boasts a free-form leisure pool with an interactive pirate ship, wave machine, slide and flume and is used by community clubs such as local Guides and Scout Clubs and Weight Watchers.

The three venues were built by Sheffield City Council as part of the 1991 World Student Games, which left taxpayers with a bill for millions - but facilities which have produced stars like Olympic golden girl Jess and affirmed Sheffield as a world centre for sporting excellence.

SIV is a subsidiary of Sheffield City Trust and serves as its operational arm - its primary objective is to improve the health and wellbeing of Sheffield people by providing facilities for sport and leisure activities.

Steve Brailey MBE, chief executive of SIV, said: “We are extremely proud to be celebrating 25 years of success for these iconic leisure and entertainment venues. Over the last two and have decades, the much-loved facilities have become part of the fabric of the city - an important part in the lives of millions of people in Sheffield.

“The Arena is one of Sheffield’s biggest stories bringing hundreds of millions of pounds to the city economy. It has been central to the development and regeneration of the Don Valley area.

“Ponds Forge and Hillsborough have made a huge impact on the lives of so many people.

“Thanks to these venues, we are making Sheffield healthier and fitter.”

Sheffield ambassador and former sports minister Richard Caborn was one of the founders of Sheffield City Trust in 1991 and its first chair until 1997.

Richard, who is now chair of the Olympic Legacy Park, said: “SIV should be rightly proud of the success of the Arena, Ponds Forge and Hillsborough and congratulated for the positive impact they’ve had on the city economy and the health of Sheffield people over the last 25 years.

“As a Sheffielder and one of the founders of Sheffield City Trust, I have a real fondness for these venues.” 

Olympic silver medallist Leon Taylor said: “Congratulations to everyone at SIV on reaching this milestone! I trained at Ponds Forge full time with many other members of the British diving team in our preparations for all major championships including the Olympic Games. The facilities are first-class and if you have to train all day everyday there isn’t a better venue.”

What are YOUR memories - email graham.walker@jpress.co.uk, with #StarSIVMemories in the subject field, tweet him @GW1962 using #StarSIVMemories or post to #StarSIVMemories, Graham Walker, Digital Editor, The Star, York Street, Sheffield, South Yorkshire S11PU.

Sheffield Arena

Sheffield Arena

Ponds Forge celebrating 25 years

Ponds Forge celebrating 25 years

Hillsborough Leisure Centre

Hillsborough Leisure Centre

Ponds Forge International Sports Centre

Ponds Forge International Sports Centre

Tina Turner played her last ever live show at Sheffield Arena

Tina Turner played her last ever live show at Sheffield Arena

Singing superstar Paul Simon was first to perform at Sheffield Arena 25 years ago.

Singing superstar Paul Simon was first to perform at Sheffield Arena 25 years ago.

Oasis played their first ever arena concert at Sheffield Arena

Oasis played their first ever arena concert at Sheffield Arena

BUCS National Swimming Championships at Ponds Forge Sheffield  Picture by Dean Atkins

BUCS National Swimming Championships at Ponds Forge Sheffield Picture by Dean Atkins