CONNACHT RUGBY HAVE announced plans for a significant redevelopment of the Sportsground in Galway.
Source: Connacht Rugby.
The cost is estimated at €30 million, delivering a new 12,000 capacity stadium, a new high-performance training centre for Connacht while also retaining existing greyhound racing facilities.
The Western province reached an agreement with the Irish Greyhound Board (IGB) and the owners of the land, the Galway Agricultural and Sports Society, to implement the project.
Funding-wise, it is intended that the costs will be covered through a combination of public funds, most notably through the Large Scale Sports Infrastructure Fund, and private funding.
The agreement between Connacht Rugby and the Irish Greyhound Boards means that both matches and racing events will continue to be hosted by the Sportsground while other sporting fixtures and events could be staged there going forward, where such demand arises.
The Sportsground first opened its doors in 1926 and while there have been changes and modifications through the years, Connacht has outgrown the venue.
“A key pillar of the vision for Connacht Rugby, Grassroots to Green Shirts, is to deliver facilities that match our ambition,” Connact Rugby CEO Willie Ruane said.
Source: Connacht Rugby.
“The arrangement we have reached with the IGB, paves the way for the delivery of modern fit for purpose facilities to sustain the Sportsground as the home of club and professional rugby in the province.
“The plans for the stadium redevelopment also include a high-performance training centre to provide both our existing professional players as well as our emerging talent access to appropriate facilities to enable them to fulfil their potential and go on to perform at the highest level.
“We have already been in contact with local residents on our plans and will be hosting a full public consultation in the coming weeks. In tandem with the planning process we will be submitting an application under the Government’s Large-Scale Sports Infrastructure Fund.
“Independent economic research carried out in 2016, found that Connacht Rugby contributes €34.4 million to the regional economy. The delivery of this project will increase that contribution and provide a beacon for regional development in the West of Ireland.
“Our vision is to ensure that the province has a stadium which future generations of sports stars, supporters and all the people of the West of Ireland can be immensely proud of.”
Source: James Crombie/INPHO
CEO of the IGB Ger Dollard echoed Ruane’s words, adding that the proposed redevelopment and new facilities will ‘greatly enhance the experience of our customers and also benefit dog owners and breeders’.
And Phillip Browne, CEO of the IRFU, noted:
“The Sportsground has been the home of rugby in Connacht since 1927 and it is fitting that as the team develops the ground does too.
“The province has made huge progress on and off the field, and the development of these facilities will sustain Connacht Rugby into the future.
“A high-performance training centre and a modern stadium are important for the future of rugby in the West of Ireland and the IRFU is fully supportive of, and looks forward to, the development of this exciting project.”
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