Thursday 22 June 2017

Casement gets £95m makeover

Casement Park will be redeveloped into a 40,000 all-seater stadium
Casement Park will be redeveloped into a 40,000 all-seater stadium
Martin Breheny

Martin Breheny

CASEMENT PARK, Belfast, will become Ulster GAA's playing headquarters over the next few years following redevelopment as a 40,000 all-seater stadium.

Funding for the project, which was first mooted in 2002, is all but guaranteed following a pledge by Northern Ireland's Finance Minister, Sammy Wilson, in yesterday's draft budget that money would be made available for sports stadia projects.

That includes an £80m allocation for the redevelopment of Casement Park.

A further £15m will be forthcoming from the GAA to complete an exciting project that will result in a fantastic facility at the west Belfast venue.

As well as providing 40,000 seats -- over 80pc of which will be under cover -- it will also feature international standard floodlights, premium and corporate facilities, as well as other amenities associated with modern stadium developments.

When completed, it will take over from St Tiernach's Park, Clones, as the venue for Ulster football finals, as well as other major games.

Describing the development as "exciting and great news in these difficult times", Ulster Council president Aogan Farrell said that, when completed, Casement Park would be an outstanding venue and a fitting tribute to the many people who put so much hard work into GAA activities in Ulster.

"Apart from that, the redevelopment will have major economic, regeneration and social benefits for the entire community," said Farrell.

"The project is another example of the positive role that sport can play.

"We have recognised for a long time that we needed a major stadium facility in Ulster and this certainly fits the bill. We have one-third of the entire GAA membership in Ulster, so it's only right that we would have a stadium that befits the province's status. We're all very excited about it," he said.

A 40,000-seater stadium in Belfast will be a major boost for the GAA in Antrim and beyond, although it won't be welcomed in Clones, whose days as HQ for Ulster football finals are numbered.

Irish Independent

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