Saturday 17 February 2018

€3.7m facelift on the cards for GAA grounds

The GAA County Grounds in Drogheda
The GAA County Grounds in Drogheda

John Savage

THE redevelopment of Drogheda's Gaelic Grounds is back on the GAA's agenda, with the old venue earmarked for a €3.7m facelift.

THE redevelopment of Drogheda's Gaelic Grounds is back on the GAA's agenda, with the old venue earmarked for a €3.7m facelift.

Louth GAA chiefs and their Croke Park hierarchy were forced to return to the drawing board in their quest for a new county grounds when plans for a 12,000 capacity arena at DkIT fell through.

Louth chairman, Padraic O'Connor, revealed to clubs on Monday night that the projected cost of the ambitious joint initiative at DkIT had spiralled way beyond the original €6m estimate, and that all three parties – Louth GAA, DkIT and Croke Park – had no option but to pull the plug on the plan.

While the news came somewhat out of the blue, the management committee did have an alternative plan to present to club delegates, proposing an impressive overhaul of the existing county grounds in Drogheda.

Pending agreement with the O'Raghallaigh's club, the re-vamped stadium would double the current capacity to 7,000.

The project would be completed in three phases, with phase one costing €2.5m. This would involve re-laying and widening the current playing surface and building a 6,000 capacity 'rear-loaded' terrace along the southside of the ground, replacing the existing grass bank. Sixteen turnstiles would also have to be constructed to cater for the increased capacity.

The dressing rooms, referee's room and toliet facilties under the main stand would also be refurbished during phase one, which is anticipated to take up to two years to complete. Other improvements include a CCTV system, new scoreboard with a mandatory 'hooter' clock, and a new public address system. The press box at the rear of the stand will also be refurbished.

Plans for phases three and four were also revealed and include floodlighting, medical rooms, two additional dressing rooms, bus parking facilities and the refurbishment of the current stand.

It was revealed that Croke Park is willing to provide €1.5m for phase one, leaving Louth GAA with a €1m bill, although this could be covered by a loan from Central Council.

Treasurer Aidan Berrill will present a detailed plan and cost projections to Central Council on November 15th, while clubs were asked to discuss the plans and meet again on November 17th.

While some delegates were taken aback by the abrupt scrapping of the DkIT deal, County Secretary Des Halpenny insisted it was purely a financial decision, but warned that 'doing nothing' is not an option.

GAA authorities are already concerned about Louth's ability to host upcoming National League games against Armagh and Meath. The clash with the Royals is the final game of the campaign and if there is something at stake for both sides, the Reds may be forced to concede home advantage.

Drogheda Independent

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