Stadium shortlist confirmed

Angela Smith, the current minister with responsibility for Culture Arts and Leisure, has confirmed the shortlist of three sites for the proposed £55m multi-sports stadium – the Maze Prison site, the North Foreshore of Belfast Lough and the Titanic Quarter in east Belfast. (BTW check out the welcome page of DCAL)

  • willowfield

    Good news that Titanic Quarter is back in (hardly “east Belfast, by the way – anymore than the city centre is in “west Belfast” by dint of being on the other side of the river!).

  • peteb

    email the BBC, willow, that’s their description.

    By the way.. back in, maybe.. front runner?.. unlikely.

  • Davros

    I hope it’s in Belfast. It’s a shame it cannot be in Derry.

  • peteb

    Does anyone seriously expect the final choice NOT to be the Maze site?

  • irishman

    It won’t be the Maze site without a Long Kesh museum- which I suspect the Consultation Panel will endorse, much to the chagrin of many unionists sitting on the panel.

    I had to laugh at the Maze being considered the most acceptalbe site for the GAA- 10 miles from the nearest nationalist area in every direction! Not that this will matter, though; my gut tells me the biggest GAA game that’s gonna be played in the stadium will be a McKenna Cup outing or U21 affair. Championship and League games will remain in GAA grounds.

  • peteb

    and it’s the political haggling over those issues which is, arguably, delaying the final decision.

  • Ziznivy

    Derry Davros? Good Lord! The Maze would be bad enough. Why on earth should the bulk of the stadium’s clientele have to make their way to a godforesaken western outpost?

    Unfortunately I think the Maze is a shoe-in, although I would favour either Belfast location. I think it’s important that home fans and visitors should have the amenities and entertainments of Belfast City Centre close by. For many recent international football games there has been a carnival pe-match atmosphere in the city and I feel this is a vital component of where to locate a stadium. Wales’ Millennium Stadium right in the heart of Cardiff is a case in point.

  • maca

    How far is the Maze from Belfasht?

  • willowfield


    I had to laugh at the Maze being considered the most acceptalbe site for the GAA- 10 miles from the nearest nationalist area in every direction!

    10 miles from any settlement of note in every direction.

    A stadium at the Maze will be a disastrous white elephant. The three sporting bodies should reject it.

  • Davros

    Ziz – there are many reasons to consider Derry.

    The maze ? an environmental disaster.
    Let’s have it in a city for Urban regeneration.
    Belfast can handle it.

    Derry ?
    1) Derry is owed! It was screwed over Craigavon and the University at Coleraine.
    2) It would make a big contribution to Derry regeneration.
    3) It would justify and vice-versa improving transport facilities to Derry, Road and especially Rail.
    4) Derry has an airport.
    5) Belfast is doing well. But there is just as much capacity for enjoyment and culture in Derry.
    6) Derry could and should be one of the main gateways to the North.

  • Ziznivy

    But regeneration is a side-effect of building a stadium Davros, not a raison d’etre. I wouldn’t argue that Derry doesn’t deserve to benefit from investment and something of this type. I just think it’s practical to expect the majority of the sports watching public to travel across the Sperrins in order to attend a national stadium. I think the sports themselves would suffer in this case and the primary consideration must be will the facilities benefit the sports they are being used for.

    There are of course sports fans in the North West but in the case of rugby and football the majority of the fanbase is from Antrim and Down.

  • Ziznivy

    That should have course read “not practical”. Can you imagine several thousand people driving from Belfast to Derry after work on a dank February Wednesday evening to make a 7.45 kick off in a sports fixture? It wouldn’t happen. And yes, I’m aware that currently people have to do it the other way around, but that’s simple demographics I’m afraid.

  • Davros

    Ziz, It has to be built somewhere, I’m for it being built where it will do most good.Which needs regeneration more, Derry or Belfast ? Derry. As for roads, Trains and Planes. If People from Belfast are prepared to travel to Croke Park etc, why not Derry ? I think we are getting too focused on Belfast. Derry could and should be so much more than it is at present, a dejected backwater.

  • willowfield

    Londonderry is a one-horse town. The suggestion that it should be the site for a national stadium is ludicrous.

  • Ziznivy

    I’m afraid part of the reason it’s a dejected backwater is its location. And that’s precisely what makes it unsuitable for a national sports stadium. People will travel to Croke Park or Lansdowne Road a handful of times a year. In all honesty for most people the journey to Derry isn’t much handier and they’re unlikely to make it every time Northern Ireland or Ulster play at home.

    And what about the logistical hassles of the governing bodies being in Belfast? The IFA’s ticketing can be a big enough rigmarole already without every home game being an away day.

  • Davros

    Why WF ? It’s a major heritage centre, It has an airport, it would strengthen the Rail Network and it would help undo some of the harm done to Derry in the past by Unionist hostility.It has great Tourist potential, shops, restaurants and excellent pubs. Why must everything be Belfast-Oriented ?

  • Fraggle

    why are you promoting this regional stadium to national status?

  • willowfield


    Londonderry’s a crap peripheral town miles away from where most people live. Belfast is the capital; it’s bigger; has more amenities; is the main centre of population; has two airports and is far easier to access from everywhere else in the world as well as from within NI.

    It would be the equivalent of building Scotland’s national stadium in Inverness.

  • George

    My tip,
    it won’t be built any time soon if at all. And if it is built, the only one that makes any economic sense is the Maze. Titanic Quarter is valuable real estate, too expensive for a stadium as small is this one would be.

    As impressive as your claims for Derry are Davros, the place simply doesn’t warrant it.

  • Lafcadio

    It won’t happen any time soon, and there seems to be an air of inevitability about the choice of the Maze – a decision of political expediency on the part of the unaccountable mandarins who are drawing the plans up; what a disastrous move that would be, who on earth wants to drive out to an empty windswept plain to watch our sporting fixtures? Are they trying to drive us to suicide?

    If a national stadium is to be built anywhere, it should be in Belfast, near the city centre. That is certainly the best option for the fans, ask anyone who’s been to Lansdowne (decrepit stadium in city centre) and Twickenham (excellent stadium in featureless suburb) to say which was the better day out..

    I’d be interested to see the business case that has a stadium in the Maze making more economic sense than a stadium in the Titanic Quarter, given the Maze’s paucity of high-class transport links and lack of immediate proximity to, well, anywhere!

  • Davros

    Londonderry’s a crap peripheral town

    That’s our side of the fence’s fault WF and it’s time it was addressed.

  • davidbrew

    of course we know Willow get’s a nosebleed when he goes further north than Glengormley-that’s if he ever has done. Davros is right about the neglect of Londonderry ( even if he can’t spell it properly!), but precisely because the good people of Belfast, like Willow, have a misplaced sense of their own importance I can’t see the rugger buggers coming to God’s own county, nor indeed many of the football supporters- it is over ninety miles to Kilkeel for example.

    The majority of NI football supporters are from the provinces so the Maze wouldn’t be too bad for them, though the lack of local hostelries might be a discouragement to some. Perhaps the way to deal with the H block problem would be to put in a few theme pubs and Burger Kings ( that would make me think about going on hunger strike :0))

    Of course if we have to have a sports stadium in the capital the easiest option would be to move the capital to Limavady, appoint Tommy Wright international manager, and pack the Showgrounds each international- Beckham’s already played there so it’ll be familiar territory.

    Sometimes the obvious solution is the simplest. Oh, and Willow- you wouldn’t need a passport.

  • Billy Pilgrim


    “I’m afraid part of the reason it’s a dejected backwater is its location.’’

    I don’t think you have really thought this through. Derry is the fourth-largest city in Ireland and is the urban centre of a hinterland of several hundred thousand people. Organic cities like Derry are fantastically rational things – they only exist in places where it makes sense for them to exist. Derry grew up where it did because of its proximity to Ireland’s largest lough and grew to become one of the busiest ports in northern Europe, swelling the population of counties Derry, Donegal, Tyrone and the north coast substantially. Derry did all that in the same location it has always been in, so location can’t be the reason for Derry’s present torpor. If location was the substantial factor you suggest, then there wouldn’t be a city on the mouth of Lough Foyle. But of course there is, which proves one thing – that `location’ doesn’t just refer to that which is convenient to residents of the greater Belfast area.

    Besides, Norn Irn is a fucking TINY place. `Isolated’ Derry is 70 miles from the Lagan Valley ffs.

    Of course since that quirky little border was dreamed up Derry has been a city with a slashed throat – I mean, how do you think Belfast’s economy would be affected if the border came as far as Dunmurry? But even that doesn’t fully explain its present state. (Which I would describe as unfulfilled potential more than anything else.)

    The demography argument – which is basically that Belfast is bigger – is on the surface a reasonable one but to be honest, it is to economics here what Majority has been to politics. Of course Belfast has a larger population but over the last 80 years or so, as Derry has been consistently and purposely neglected, that has been taken as justification for giving NOTHING to Derry. I must admit I find it an eye-opener to see how unionists justify these things to themselves.

    Over the years Derry has suffered one indignity after another. You had the university scandal. You had a unionist government going so far as to attempt to create a new `city’ (Craigavon) rather than source much-needed labour in unemployment-stricken Derry. You had the closure of the main railway line to Belfast, leaving only the coastal route – beautiful but completely inadequate. You had the motorway plans of the 50s and 60s – have you ever seen those plans? Motorways were to be built to Enniskillen, Coleraine, Larne, Antrim, Bangor, Newtownards – basically everywhere where a significant number of Protestants were gathered. Derry was omitted. Apparently Dungannon (population 12,000) had a stronger claim. Today the pro-union politburo (or civil service, as we less accurately call them) are hell-bent closing the remaining railway line to Derry – bad and all as that line is, its closure would be yet another sordid episode in the story of Derry’s treatment at the hands of the Belfast establishment who have always, ALWAYS justified their decisions on the basis that Derry is just so very isolated.

    Of course I wouldn’t like to speculate as to why Northern Ireland’s decision-makers have always been so antipathetic towards Derry…

    (Incidentally I don’t think this new stadium should be built there. I applaud Davros’ thinking on the subject but the city needs massive regeneration FIRST. A stadium would be wasted there if it was built now. The city needs motorway links to Belfast and a transformative upgrade of its rail links for starters. It does not need the well-meaning but short-sighted lipstick-on-the-corpse approach.
    The stadium will surely be built at the Maze, even though a city centre location would be infinitely more popular, and even though the Maze site would be a disaster. The people of the north have a bit of imagination and common sense but our mandarin class has never shown any such vision. They’ll build the thing at the Maze because that’s all this whole project is really about. Get the thing built, pose for the photos, be seen to be doing something. Whether it’s a success or whether it might actually make a meaningful contribution to the community it is supposed to serve is irrelevant.

    But hey, it’s not like it matters what we want. Where do you think you are, in a democracy?

  • barnshee

    Derry and the Maze are the arsehole and armpit of nowhere. The only possible place for a stadium is Belfast -the Titanic Quarter is (just about) walking distance from the city centre. The Best analogy is Cardiff on a Big event day where the city centre (and hotels up to 20 miles away) have hughly profitable weekends and/or days. Build it big and build it close.

  • Davros

    Let’s try this tack – We owe it to Derry as a reward for it’s service during WWII.

    People don’t seem to have a problem with hopping on a train to Dublin. There’s an airport. Transport shouldn’t be an issue.

    Billy, I would see it as a first step towards regeneration – the increased work building, followed by increased business when up and running would lead to improvement/expansion of airport and railways. That would make the city more attractive to business investment and Tourists. Cross Border cooperation would be a big help. There could even be a knock-on effect for the Gaeltacht.