Monday 14 May 2007

€40m redevelopment kicks off at Thomond Park

THE likely salvation of the Heineken European Cup will come as a major relief to Munster rugby fans.

And also to the IRFU, which is investing €40 million in the redevelopment of Thomond Park.

The development necessitated the buy-out of a terrace of houses at Knockalisheen Road at a cost of €4m.

The wrecking ball has been busy at work levelling the old stand.

The new 27,000 capacity stadium will have two new stands capable of seating nearly 17,000 fans.All going well, the new Thomond Park will be ready for the commencement of the 2007/2008 Heineken Cup.

Up to 10,000 ten-year tickets are in the process of being sold and the first batches at €5,000 per ticket have been snapped up.

There were a few planning hiccups which have all been resolved to the satisfaction of Limerick City Council.

Negotiations with the 16 households at Knockalisheen Road also added a complication to the plan.

However, after months of negotiations, the 13 residents who had purchased their homes from Limerick City Council under the tenant purchase scheme struck a deal with the IRFU.

Thee of the houses were still in council ownership and some of the tenants were reluctant to move to alternative accommodation provided by the council.

Acquisition of the row of houses was essential for the redevelopment of the venue to go ahead.

The plans provide for a major access way from the Knockalisheen Road side.

The council also sold on derelict apartments to the IRFU which were located near the boundary wall of the park.

Fears that the Heineken Cup would go ahead next year without the top English and French club sides caused major worries for the IRFU as the development was based on ongoing revenue from the competition.

While talks are still continuing, indications are that it is now likely the competition in its present format will be continued.

An announcement is due next weekend.

Irish Examiner

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