Wednesday 14 October 2009

GAA to buy council park land for stadium upgrade

A LOCAL authority has agreed to provide land to the GAA to facilitate improvements at Munster’s biggest stadium.

Talks are expected to take place soon to finalise the terms of the deal between Cork City Council and the GAA that will result in significant upgrades to Páirc Uí Chaoimh.

The city has acquired, by Compulsory Purchase Order (CPO), several acres of land around the Showgrounds in Ballintemple, close to Páirc Uí Chaoimh.

The lands were acquired as part of the city’s plans to develop a Phoenix Park-style public park, to be called Marina Park, as part of its multi-billion docklands regeneration plan.

The city has agreed to pay a figure of €11.5 million, plus costs, for the land. The money is payable over a three-year period and a loan proposal will be brought before councillors soon.

As the CPO process progressed last year, Cork County Board saw an opportunity to upgrade the stadium. It presented a document to the Docklands Development Forum entitled Development of Páirc Uí Chaoimh and Showgrounds, Cork which included a request for some of the land to:

* Help the refurbishment and enlargement of the stadium.

* The construction of an associated "centre of excellence".

* The construction of 308 parking spaces.

* An all-weather playing pitch and a warm up area.

* An access concourse.

* And other facilities including a museum, meeting and function rooms.

The refurbished stadium would have the potential to host large concerts and conferences, the GAA said.

It sought just over 4.98 hectares (12.3 acres) of the 10.32 hectares (25.5 acres) of the lands acquired by the city through the CPO – almost half of all the land acquired by CPO. City manager Joe Gavin said while the council was fully supportive of the GAA’s plans, certain aspects would impact on the council’s vision for Marina Park.

He said parking will be available at the proposed Howard Holdings Atlantic Quarter project on the nearby former Ford site and that public transport alternatives will be available.

He said an all-weather pitch and warm-up areas could be located elsewhere.

But Mr Gavin said the city was now in a position to dispose of 0.8 hectares (1.98 acres) to the GAA to facilitate the upgrade, including a 15 metre wide spectator circulation area.

"The upgrading of Páirc Uí Chaoimh would be an important development for the city and the council is now in a position to help with the provision of proper access routes by providing approximately two acres of land surrounding the stadium," he said.

The need for a warm-up area to service the stadium will be included in the overall design of Marina Park, he added.

The price of the land, it emerged, will be hammered out in the coming weeks.

Irish Examiner

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