Stack Park move on hold


KERRY GAA has put plans to move from its Austin Stack Park headquarters and move to a new stadium in Ballybeggan on indefinite hold, leading to intense speculation about the future of the entire project.

At Monday's County Convention Kerry GAA Chairman Jerome Conway announced that plans to move from Tralee's Austin Stack Park, which would be demolished and replaced with a massive retail complex, have been "parked" due to the current economic climate.

It has now emerged that key aspects of the deal between the County Board and developers John Casey and Seamus O'Halloran, the biggest property deal ever negotiated in Kerry, are currently being renegotiated.

The County Board has opened new negotiations with the developers regarding a planned training facility in Currans which was to be built for the GAA, along with a new stadium in Ballybeggan in a turnkey arrangement, in exchange for Austin Stack Park.

Citing an urgent need for training facilities, Mr Conway said that the GAA was prepared to buy the Currans site outright and develop it themselves if an agreement can be reached with the developers.

Any new deal would be contingent on the Kerry County Board securing funding from the GAA Central Council.

Negotiations are already underway between the parties regarding the Currans site, which already has planning permission for a training facility. These talks are expected to finish by the end of January 2010.

If a deal cannot be reached on the site, Jerome Conway said the County GAA Board is prepared to walk away from that aspect of the deal and find an alternative site.

Mr Conway emphasised that plans to move from Austin Stack Park were not entirely contingent on the Currans development but he added that the entire deal may need to be renegotiated when the economy eventually improves.

Regardless of any potential need for renegotiation, Mr Conway said he believed it would be several years before the economy recovers to a level where the Ballybeggan deal, first agreed in 2007, can move forward. Con't from page 1

Meanwhile, developers John Casey and Seamus O'Halloran say the project is still viable and will go ahead, though at a markedly slower pace than was first envisaged.

Seamus O'Halloran insisted that the entire project is still commercially viable and will proceed when the economy recovers.

The developers said on Tuesday that while the Austin Stack Park and Ballybeggan aspects of the project were "on hold" the first phase of the massive plan will go ahead, as planned, in 2010.

Work on Phase 1 of the project, on the site of John Mitchels GAA club in Tralee, will begin next year. The development will involve the construction of a 135,000 square foot retail complex at a cost of €30 million.

Its estimated the some 300 jobs will be created in the 12-month construction stage with close to 1,000 jobs created when the retail complex opens.

Advanced negotiations are underway with a major anchor retailer and a deal is expected to be finalised in the next fortnight.

The delays in completing the mammoth project could also force a renegotiation of the €40 million deal the developers made with the shareholders of Ballybeggan Park in Tralee.

In September 2007 the developers provided a €1 million unrefundable deposit to secure a five year option to buy the historic racetrack. This deal is due to expire in September 2012 and if work has not commenced on the site by then the sale arrangement may be need to be entirely renegotiated.