With the announcement below by Padraic Duffy of the redevelopment of PUC (no, really, we’re serious this time) by 2015 (!) and Casement Park, the GAA is not letting the economic downturn get in the way of much needed upgrading of important grounds. Great news altogether, but given the fact that it will invove significant borrowing, as there will be little or not state money involved, will this have a detrimental effect in the short term on funds flowing to the counties / clubs from head office? Especially when you consider the parlous financial state of some county boards, Wexford being a case in point.
What other essential work has to be carried out around the country?
(From the Irish Times)
GAA DIRECTOR General Páraic Duffy yesterday confirmed the GAA are fully committed to embarking on the biggest period of infrastructural investment since the redevelopment of Croke Park was completed in 2005.
Over €160 million will be required, from internal and external sources, to completely modernise both Páirc Uí Chaoimh in Cork and Casement Park in Belfast.
“We know over the next number of years our two big commitments will be to Casement Park and Páirc Uí Chaoimh,” said Duffy yesterday. “It will be a huge strain on our resources, clearly we are talking about getting into borrowings here.
“But the main point I want to make is that because of the huge amount of work done over the past 10 years in terms of ground redevelopment we are not in too bad a shape all over the country. Secondly, because of the recession there wouldn’t be as great a demand in other counties to redevelop stadia that there would have been.
“The government funding, sports capital grants, has largely dried up. That means there are less projects and with Cork and Belfast putting a serious demand on us there won’t be an awful lot available for other projects over the next five years.”
The Ulster Council plan to develop a 40,000 capacity ground in Belfast with Cork GAA aiming for 45,000 capacity and a centre of excellence.
They are poised to seek planning permission for the first phase of a two-year project to modernise Páirc Uí Chaoimh, which includes 2,000 corporate and premium seats. The projected total cost is €67 million. Naming rights will also be sold.
“I think there has been a huge positive payback by the redevelopment of Croke Park,” Duffy said. “People want to come to a stadium where spectator comfort is outstanding, players enjoy playing there and now we will have two more well developed stadia at either end of the country.
“In the future people won’t come to games without a certain level of comfort and facilities. We need to be able to deliver that to the public who attend our games.”
Cork county board aspire to complete the re-development by the end of 2015.
“In the ideal scenario you wouldn’t be redeveloping two of your biggest stadia at the same time. But I think nobody would argue both of them are in serious need of redevelopment,” said Duffy, who made the point that the bulk of the money for the Casement redevelopment – some £61.4 million (€76.55m) – is coming from the Northern Ireland Executive.
“The initial idea was to build a multi-sports stadium at the Maze which the GAA had signed up for with soccer and rugby. That fell through and it was decided to redevelop each organisation’s stadia separately. So we had no control over the timing; the opportunity is there now and it couldn’t be turned down.”
The GAA are contributing £15 million (€18.7 million) to the Casement project. Although a formal meeting has yet to take place between Cork officials and the GAA management committee, a similar financial commitment is expected to be requested from central coffers.
“In the case of Páirc Uí Chaoimh it just has to be modernised,” Duffy continued. “It does put a burden on us. I suppose we are a little further behind in the Cork situation. The Casement case has been made, they have been down to Croke Park and the plans are underway so we know what the commitment there will be.
“But everybody agrees it has to be done. Cork have acquired the land and are in the preliminary stages of design.”
The Cork county board, led by long-serving secretary Frank Murphy, will also seek a contribution from the Munster Council and state funding.
Phase one will require €40-50 million over two years with phase two being the construction of a new terrace and open stand. The centre of excellence will include an all-weather pitch, new gymnasium, dressingrooms, video and performance assessment facilities. A viewing area of 1,000 capacity for the all-weather pitch will form part of the redevelopment of the existing covered stand.
Four hundred jobs are expected to be created by the project with €22 million going into the construction and related industries.
“We will contribute the majority of the funding ourselves,” said Cork chairman Bob Ryan. “If we can raise the funds for completion in one phase we will.”
In the meantime, no major championship matches will be held in Cork city as Páirc Uí Rinn only holds 17,000. There are home and away agreements in place with a number of Munster counties, which Cork GAA hope will be honoured with a run of home matches after 2015.
Note - TASE, we’ve heard it all before mate, calm down