Dundalk to install €300k pitch ahead of new campaign
League of Ireland champions Dundalk will install a new £300,000 artificial pitch at Oriel Park in time for the opening of their title defence against Shamrock Rovers on February 24.
Long term, the Lilywhites plan a return to natural turf but it was not feasible to lay a grass pitch in such a tight window and with question marks hanging over other aspects of developing the old stadium.
Dundalk's lucrative success in Europe last year and the resolving of a protracted issue over the Oriel Park lease has finally given them the freedom to make overdue changes at their base.
The club have indicated that they are undertaking a major review into the long-term future of the ground.
That will examine whether they can make the necessary structural improvements to it in order to bring it up to the required standards to host later-stage European games. If that's not feasible, moving to a new site will be considered.
Dundalk first switched to an artificial pitch in 2005 - a departure that cost over €500,000 - and they replaced it in 2009.
The new pitch will be supplied by Limonta Sport, which signed a partnership with the FAI in 2014 and installed the surface at the FAI's Abbotstown HQ, which has received favourable reports.
Dundalk will play all of their pre-season friendly matches away from home with their President's Cup meeting with Cork City now set to take place in Turner's Cross. Dundalk are also exploring the possibility of going to Spain for a warm-weather training camp.