Saturday 23 March 2019

'If it's our stadium, it's our debt' - Cork GAA chief hoping to avoid levies on clubs over Páirc Uí Chaoimh costs

An aerial view of Páirc Ui Chaoimh
An aerial view of Páirc Ui Chaoimh
Independent.ie Newsdesk

Independent.ie Newsdesk

Cork GAA's new CEO Kevin O’Donovan has not ruled out the imposition of levies on clubs in the Rebel county to cover the increased cost of the Páirc Uí Chaoimh redevelopment.

The project has been in the spotlight since December after Croke Parke stadium and commercial director Peter McKenna said the cost could run as high as €110m, way above the €86m total estimated when works were completed in 2017, €30m of which came in the form of state funding.

Last week, Cork GAA released a statement to say that the estimated cost was now at €95.8m.

In an interview with RTE Sport, O'Donovan said he was confident that he 'trusts' the latest figures but some issues have yet to be ironed out.

"There is a lot of frustration among our members and the public around the estimates still being on the table given that the stadium opened 18 months ago," he said.

"The reason it is an estimate is that there are four issues still outstanding; negotiations with the contractor, negotiations with local government, negotiations with central government and the pitch situation.

"It’s the figure we have on the table at the money and I trust that figure.

"If you take the timeline back to when there was talk of €70m then €78m, €84m and then €86m and so on. A lot of those, up to the €86m, would have been approved at board level where there were changes made to the project.

"The reason the figure has taken this jump now is that they have taken a prudent and clear approach to those four outstanding issues and they have set that figure. That’s the figure I accept and will work with."

When asked how Cork GAA plan to pay for the stadium, O'Donovan raised the possibility of clubs in Cork being levied, although it was something he's hoping to avoid.

"The stadium is supposed to generate revenue over the long term to pay for its own debts and in time generate revenue to come back into Cork GAA," he added.

"We hope that that does not affect county board activities but it affects them indirectly because we were assuming that revenue was coming but that revenue isn't there.

"We can talk forever about levies or not (imposing) levies. We would hope that there would never be a levy placed on clubs to fund bricks and mortar but at the same time we have to face the harsh reality is that is our stadium. If it's our stadium, it's our debt."

Páirc Uí Chaoimh is currently idle because of problems with the playing surface and he revealed that the Cork County Board will make a decision on a full pitch replacement next Monday.

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