Saturday 25 January 2020

Dublin GAA stadium back on agenda as County Board push for 25,000-capacity home

County board trying to buy Spawell Complex for major development

The Spawell Complex
The Spawell Complex
Dublin CEO John Costello: "From a development perspective, the lands could be conveniently developed on a phased basis as funds became available, with the stadium the last piece of the jigsaw.” Photo: Sportsfile
Martin Breheny

Martin Breheny

A new 25,000-capacity GAA stadium in Dublin is back on the agenda following the re-opening of negotiations to acquire the landmark Spawell Complex on the city's southside.

Dublin County Board last year failed in its bid to buy the 35-acre site in Templeogue, losing out to an investment fund in a deal that sparked a major controversy.

Dublin CEO John Costello was highly critical of NAMA, arguing that it had ignored its community development remit by not selling the property for sporting and social purposes.

Nama countered by claiming that a receiver was obliged to accept the highest price.

The prime property, situated just off the M50, sold in June 2015 for over €9m, believed to be around €500,000 more than the Dublin bid. The original asking price was €6.5m.

The Irish Independent understands that Dublin County Board is now in negotiations with the Davy-managed investment fund to buy the prime property, which is ideally located for a major sporting facility.

If successful, the plan is to build a 25,000-stadium, together with four additional full-size pitches and other support facilities.

It could double up as an alternative Centre of Excellence, while also benefiting several clubs in its immediate hinterland.

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The Spawell Complex currently has an 18-hole par-3 course, driving range, squash courts, all-weather pitches, as well 12 commercial premises, yielding €600,000 per annum.

Planning permission for a 150-bedroom hotel, 21,550 square metre leisure centre and a 575-space car park was granted in 2010.

Dublin County Board included a 25,000-capacity stadium in its strategic plan drawn up in 2011. They regarded a new stadium as an essential addition to bridge the gap between Croke Park (82,300) and Parnell Park (9,000).

Spawell, which has the advantage of being located on the southside, was identified as far back as 2010 as a potential site. A feasibility study confirmed that the site would meet all the board's requirements.

"From a development perspective, the lands could be conveniently developed on a phased basis as funds became available, with the stadium the last piece of the jigsaw," Costello told the Dublin county convention last December.

"KPMG carried out financial modelling and we engaged with Croke Park in regard to funding assistance."

Costello said that Dublin were bitterly appointed with the outcome having "come second to a speculative investment fund, which had submitted a slightly higher bid".

It appeared at the time as if Dublin's ambitions had no chance of coming to fruition but the landscape has changed since then. And while a deal has yet to be done, it's understood that progress is being made.

Spawell's location makes it ideal for a mid-size stadium as it backs on to the M50, ensuring easy access.

In addition, it is located close to the St Jude's, Faughs and Ballyboden-St Enda's clubs, while several others clubs operate from the wider area.

A 25,000-capacity stadium would be suitable for some of Dublin footballers' and hurlers' home League games as well as providing a major base on the southside, which has experienced a massive growth in GAA activity.

Irish Independent

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