Monday 27 March 2017

GAA seeks to cash in on cheap NAMA land

The GAA is poised to tap into the vast NAMA land banks to help it build a spate of new facilities.

The move is certain to spark other sporting organisations into action to cash in on the low price of land held all over the country by the country's "toxic bank''.

Details of the GAA's plans emerged last night in a key report which urged Dublin GAA to approach NAMA with a view to buying land for a new 25,000-seater stadium and two 'centres of excellence' on either side of the Liffey.

Other counties are bound to look closely at doing the same on the basis that they may never get as good a chance to acquire sites and facilities again.

Many clubs were badly burned after buying sites for stadiums during the Celtic Tiger years, only to run into trouble when property values crashed and repayments spiralled.

But NAMA's vast land bank could provide a lifeline for many others who are struggling with existing facilities.

Experts last night said the GAA would not be the only organisation attempting to benefit from the low prices, with rugby and soccer clubs also anxious to get their hands on badly needed new facilities.

The Dublin plan was unveiled in Croke Park last night. It details a six-year strategy for Dublin GAA called 'Unleashing The Blue Wave'.



It made no secret of the fact that the Dubs will be taking a look at NAMA's books -- which now control much of the vacant land around the capital as a result of taking on €70bn in debts from ravaged financial institutions and developers hit by the global downturn.



The report says there is an acute need for a mid-sized inter-county ground.



According to insiders, Dublin GAA officials will go looking for NAMA land around the M50 to start building a new stadium.



Only recently, the Leinster Council ditched plans to develop a new stadium in the north-east of the province or in the commuter belt.



But the Dublin County Board believes it can exploit the absence of a modern stadium by building a new one with a capacity somewhere between Parnell Park (around 10,000) and Croke Park (82,300).



Grounds in Kildare and Meath (St Conleth's Park in Newbridge and Pairc Tailteann in Navan) have had their capacities downsized on health and safety grounds recently.



That means none of the Dublin satellite counties have suitable inter-county grounds for a mid-sized crowd.



There is now an acute shortage of appropriate facilities within the greater Dublin area.



Training



And that extends to a lack of a training academy and centres of excellence suitable to adequately cater for development squads of all age groups up to senior level.



The same applies to many other counties and that is why the lure of getting NAMA land to develop and expand will attract officials keen to explore every avenue.



Meanwhile, a row is brewing between the GAA and Leinster Rugby over the colour of the Leinster jersey.



Dublin is claiming that Leinster has effectively hijacked the GAA's famous blue sporting brand.



The report says: "The Blue Jersey is a unique, inclusive brand, uniting Dublin's dense expanse, blurring the difference in class and possession which became so pointedly manifest during the delusional days of the Celtic Tiger."

Irish Independent

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