Work starts on national arena for Olympic 2016 stars
Construction work on the new National Indoor Arena officially began yesterday when sports minister Paschal Donohoe turned the ceremonial sod in Dublin.
The world-class indoor arena will be ready to host up to 20 different sporting disciplines when it opens in November next year, said the minister.
It is being built on the National Sports Campus at Blanchardstown, west Dublin.
Mr Donohoe said the new arena has been "long considered to be the missing piece in our national sporting infrastructure".
"It will provide world-class indoor training facilities in which Irish athletes can train and prepare for international competitions," he said.
The state-of-the-art facility will consist of three main indoor training centres including one with a 200 metre track, sprint track, jump and throw areas and seating for up to 1,900 spectators.
Another will cater for gymnastics, while the third will cater for a wide range of other sports.
Some 250 construction jobs will be filled over the next 16 months.
The minister said the High Performance Centre will be available to assist elite athletes as they train, in their final year of preparation, for the Rio Olympic Games in 2016.
"As one of the largest development projects of its kind in the country, this investment by the State will provide a variety of disciplines with the opportunity to showcase their sports and to host regional and national competitions in first-class settings," Mr Donohoe said.
Irish international pentathlon athletes Natalya Coyle (24) from Tara, Co Meath, and Arthur Lanigan O'Keeffe (23) from Thomastown, Co Kilkenny, were among the sports figures at the arena.
They said having a single national sports campus was brilliant as it cuts down massively on their commuting time.
Mr Donohoe also viewed progress on other developments at the campus, including the Irish Institute of Sport High Performance Centre and the Campus Pavilion Building, both of which will be completed next month. The GAA are completing works on its National Training Centre, with the FAI developing its National Centre of Excellence.
National Sports Campus Development Authority chairman Sean Benton said the next two years will see the campus take a significant leap forward with the opening of the indoor arena.