Wednesday 23 April 2008

Stadium plan lacked business study

NO FORMAL business appraisal was carried out by Bord na gCon on a proposed €20 million greyhound stadium on the outskirts of Limerick, after it bought land for €1.39m, confidential documentsreveal.

The project was subsequently abandoned.

A site at Meelick was purchased on behalf of the greyhound board by solicitors Holmes O’Malley Sexton for €1.02m at public auction.

Additional costs brought the total outlay on the site to €1.39m.

It was planned to build a five-storey stadium and a three-storey office building at the site.

Following difficulties, the board abandoned the Meelick project and is going ahead with a new greyhound stadium at the old Limerick racecourse at Greenpark on Dock Road.

As the board did not withdraw the planning application it sought at Meelick but allowed it lapse, it forfeited €27,156.

Bord na gCon still owns the Meelick land and says it will make a profit on its sale.

The Comptroller and Auditor General is finalising a report on the affairs of board, which is due out within three months.

In a written reply to queries from the auditor’s office, Adrian Neilan, who took up his post as chief executive of board subsequent to the Meelick site purchase, said no formal business appraisal of Meelick was conducted.

In a confidential written reply to the auditor, Mr Neilan stated: “A number of discussions took place to determine the approximate value and merits of the site. Bord na gCon has significant expertise in managing numerous capital development programmes (Cork, Galway etc), therefore there was enough in-house knowledge of similar projects and their significant value back to the organisation that a formal business appraisal was not needed.”

Responding to another question, Mr Neilan said no preliminary costing was prepared as the board was aware of the overall costs associated with previous developments, especially the Cork stadium.

Mr Neilan said the site at Meelick, which it still owns, has now been valued at €1.89m and a preliminary offer of €1.5m has already been rejected.

Mr Neilan said it is anticipated that the total transactions associated with the site would result in a positive net cash flow for the board, with a profit on sale of the site.

Irish Examiner

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