MEMBERS of Bohemians last night voted in favour of selling Dalymount Park to a developer in return for a new 10,000-seater stadium close to Dublin Airport, plus about ?45m in cash.
The deal with developer Liam Carroll is worth ?65m but it also heralds the end of an era for the northside club, which has played at the Phibsboro ground for the past 105 years.
Details of the new stadium, complete with restaurant, bars and gymnasium were unveiled to a special meeting of about 250 members. When a vote was taken there was only one dissenting voice to the deal, which will see the club move to the new ground and built to UEFA standards, at Harristown off the M50 close to Dublin Airport.
Although the package was viewed as good news by club members attending last night's meeting at Na Fianna GAA Club on Mobhi Road, local politicians voiced concerns about what would happen to the land once it is sold.
Mr Carroll, who last month bought out financier Dermot Desmond's 22pc stake in sugar manufacturers Greencore for ?170m, has until 2011 to decide what to do with the land. He made his offer for the 5.17acre site at Dalymount without planning permission being secured.
It is a much-improved deal on the one previously negotiated by the club with Andorey Developments earlier this year, which would have seen the club getting a new stadium at Castleknock and ?26m in cash.
Under the terms of the latest agreement, the club will get money in installments while the new stadium is being built, starting with about ?3.2m annually. Club member Kevin Gaul echoed the views of many when he said: "It's a good deal and it means we're staying in north Dublin."
Members were told how the site off the M50 was serviced by five bus routes and would likely be on the route of any future metro line.
Meanwhile, many members felt the club should invest the money it is to receive from the developer.
"I wouldn't want to see it wasted," said 65-year-old Sid Kavanagh, a fan of club for more than 30 years. He suggested that if apartments are built in the future on the Dalymount ground, the club should put some of its cash into them.
Club president Gerry Cuffe said he had been confident that members would vote favourably for the deal and the club was looking forward to being handed the keys to a new stadium.
Labour TD Joe Costello said residents were "extremely concerned" the area would suffer over-development to the detriment of the existing population and amenities, while Fine Gael City Councillor Paschal Donohoe said he was "strongly opposed" to any future redevelopment. Local politicians said it was "inevitable" that the developer would have to have the site rezoned for substantial development so he could recoup his expenditure and maximise profits.
"Dalymount is a wonderful sporting amenity in the heart of Phibsborough and once the Bohemians transfer to the suburbs the amenity will be irreplaceable," said Mr Costello.
Mr Donohoe added: "Neither local representatives nor the residents have been consulted at any stage of this process and this cannot continue to be the case. Mr Carroll has more than a dozen companies including Zoe Developments and Daninger Developments.