Meath, Kildare and Waterford get €13.75m in grant aid for venue revamps
Three counties are to benefit to the tune of €13.75million from State funding towards the cost of redeveloping their primary grounds after money from a new Large Scale Sports Infrastructure Fund was allocated yesterday.
Meath, Kildare and Waterford will now be in a position to proceed with revamping Páirc Tailteann in Navan, St Conleth's Park in Newbridge and Walsh Park in Waterford city after the announcement of the funding.
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Meath got the largest grant, €6.2m, which will help them to get the first phase of their development under way. The board have planning permission for a 21,000-capacity all-seater stadium but intend to proceed with a new 4,000-seater stand and floodlighting in the initial phase at a cost of around €10m/€11m.
Waterford unveiled plans for a 15,000-seater Walsh Park. If their projection of a €7m cost is on target, half of that will be funded by the State which has pledged €3.75m through the fund.
Kildare have plans to rebuild St Conleth's Park with provision for a capacity of 15,000. That includes a 2,600-seater stand which will contain dressing-rooms, VIP and bar areas, a hospitality room, and storage facilities.
It is anticipated that work on the €10m-€11m development will begin in the summer and will take up to 12 months to complete.
St Conleth's Park was at the centre of controversy in 2018 when the GAA overlooked it due to health and safety reasons for Kildare's qualifier with Mayo. But after strong objections were raised and the threat of not fulfilling the fixture was made, the decision was reversed. A pitch realignment, new surface, floodlights and a new entrance with a plaza off the main street are all part of the plans.
All three counties will be seeking further grants from their respective provincial councils and Croke Park.
Stadium redevelopment in the GAA has been under the spotlight with the rising cost of the new Páirc Uí Chaoimh in Cork and planning troubles with Casement Park in Belfast which will mean added costs if that project gets under way.
Connacht Rugby is one of the big beneficiaries with €10m allocated for the Sportsgrounds, a development that could cost €30m, while the RDS, home of Leinster Rugby, has also been allocated €10m for the construction of a two-tier stand to replace the existing Angelsea Stand and terrace.
The announcement of the fund allocations has been deferred in recent months.