a dreadful shame?

According to the report in the Belfast Telegraph, NIO Sports Minister [there’s a Department for Sport? – Ed], David Hanson, is impatient for a decision from the governing bodies of soccer, rugby and the GAA on whether they’ll commit to the proposed stadium at the Maze site. Talking up the possibility of losing three Olympic soccer games in 2012 looks like a clumsy attempt to generate public pressure on those organisations to me, and the Belfast Telegraph seems to be doing its bit to aid that attempt.. *ahem* But surely it would be better to publish the economic case for a stadium at that particular site?.. assuming such a case exists, and is convincing, that is.

  • finn69

    strange, i thought london was going to host the games, hence why londoners (and me) are going to pay for them, then again who is going to pay for the new stadium anyway, silly me.

  • frank

    Bin the idea, a big white elephant if ever i seen one.

  • slug

    NI will get a stadium one way or the other. There is no need to fall for this “there is no plan B” blackmail. If we don’t want it at the Maze, if we want it in Belfast, then Belfast is where it shall be. Stuff the Olymipics, the right location is more important.

  • mnob

    finn69 UK citizens are paying for the games not just Londoners. Just another example of NI people providing subvention to the big smoke 🙂

    Anyway back to the main topic, whats this ‘there is no plan B’ blackmail. What sort of a leader doesn’t have a plan B ? I’m not sure he understands the mentality of some of the locals here who would quite stubbornly accept nothing over a white elephant any day. Whats wrong with the way things are anyway 😉 I fear change.

  • slug

    Having no plan b makes it seem they aren’t considering all possible alternatives – a bad a approach and one that can easily be challenged!

    Check out BBC NI News Online for Plan B and C.

  • TOT

    NIO argument to date consists of

    Land is free
    we might get a couple of games in 2012 and maybe one UEFA cup final at some unspecified point in time.
    Thats about it.

    Pardon me if I don’t strip off and run down the street singing yippe de do da.

    if the economic case for using the maze is so overwhelming publish it otherwise you’ll have to forigve me if t=I refuse to accept that this is anything other than about creating a photo opportunity for some NIO numpty to be seen breaking the soil with a nice shiny shovel and feeling the hand of histroy (again) on their shoulder as they physically and metaphorically break new ground.

  • slug


    The land is free arguement takes GCSE economics to see through. It’s called the ‘opportunity cost’ of the site. If you don’t use the land at the Maze you can sell it for a price (since its on a good commuter route you shoudl get a good price). That price is the cost of the land on the Maze site.

  • Nestor Makhno

    The most ridiculous contribution to the debate came from Lisburn Councillor Edwin Poots on this morning’s BBC Radio Ulster news. He claimed that the new Wembley site is as far from London ‘city centre’ (not sure where that actually is) as the Maze site is from Belfast city centre! Talk about clutching at straws.

    There is a huge population, public transport and retail infrastructure, etc. between the two locations in London. There are nothing but cows and grass between the two locations here.

    This is also a guy who told the BBC that he hadn’t been to see Cardiff’s city centre stadium – but yet he could speak authoratively on the subject.

    His final comment was to imply that the opposition to the Maze it was all a Reg Empey inspired conspiracy…


  • slug

    Losing 2 or 3 football games in the Olympics is a price WELL WORTH PAYING to get a long term stadium in the right location.

    Don’t let the “there is no plan b” argument run.

    The government are failing if there is no plan b.

    If you invest £50m+ in something you should assess more than one alternative. Otherwise you’re failing the taxpayer.

  • Northern FF

    Where is Reg on this? Surely this is an opportunity for the UUP – the only reason the Government is pushing the Maze site for a stadium is becuase it will give some cover for investment in the new Long Kesh shrine / memorial / interpretive centre.

  • eranu

    from bbcni news –
    the maysfield idea sounds interesting, right in the middle of town. is there enough space there to build a stadium though? i suppose there is enough parking in and around belfast for people to walk over to maysfield. infact that would help create that all important pre / post match atmosphere in the city centre, not to mention trade. think im warming to this idea.
    i think id rather keep ormeau as a park though.

    is there anyone other than our stupid politicans who actually want to build it at the maze site?

  • mnob

    If you want to express your views have a click on :

    it will take you to a page titled :

    Send a message to Mr David Hanson MP

  • GavBelfast

    I heard the Mayor of Lisburn’s contribution to this debate on Stephen Nolan’s Radio Ulster programme this morning – Craig’s contribution was even less impressiv than Lord Mayor of Belfast’s, though at least Criag did produce a wonderful malpropism when he said that those (from Belfast) who were opposing the Maze site were bing selfish and “colloquial”.


    End this Maze madness – please.

  • Aaron

    Edwin Poots is right about location of Wembley v the location of the Maze. Have you ever tried getting to Wembley from Oxford Street?

    Anyway, I don’t get why everyone’s so concerned about the economic case for the stadium all of a sudden. There’s no economic case for the country, never mind anything in it. People are seriously clutching at straws here to prevent something happening that would be bloody worthwhile.

  • Pete Baker


    How would it be worthwhile if it wasn’t economically viable?

  • GavBelfast

    Aaron, tell us how you think it is viable at the Maze, especially when the supporters who actually go don’t want it.


  • Aaron

    I’m not professing to say that it will be economically viable, just that very little in the country is, and that I genuinely believe that people using that arguments are clutching at straws.

    There’s a loud section of soccer and rugby supporters who don’t want it, and they’re the ones who are making themselves heard. Equally, there’s a lot of fans particularly rugby fans, who are quite happy with the proposals, but get shouted down everytime the discussion occurs.

    And I know that the soccer fans are anti the proposals, but I believe the stadium would open up the game to a fanbase who would never feel comfortable in Windsor Park.

    AFAIK, there’s not a huge amount of debate about the stadium amongst the GAA community, but if the GAA gets behind the plans, I bet supporters will be very happy at not travelling to Dublin for games as much.

    I’m not saying that there aren’t workable alternatives, just that I think the anti-Maze camps haven’t won everyone over, as recieved wisdom on this board (and other boards) would indidcate.

  • TOT

    As a soccer fan I’d say its not about staying at windsor(i’d happily lock the gates on it tomorrow) but more about having a stadium which will cripple the game with costs, which the fans dont want and which will severely detract from match day atmosphere.

  • GavBelfast

    Aaron, the track record for stadia in Europe and in the UK especially is that they dodn’t work when th are built in the sticks, but do tend to work whn they are built in an urban environment.

    The GAA will retain Casement Park and have Clones and Croke Park for the big games.

    The Ulster Branch are committed ot Ravenhill (though saying nice things about this SIB pet project) and the IRFU are committed to a rebuilt Lansdowne and Dublin will not giove up the tourism baonanza of big Ireland games.

    The IFA is in danger of being rail-roaded into this and to regret it for decades. It cannot fall back on an un-renovated Windsor Park, though there are intimidation tactics of enforced attendance restrictions being imposed being used to force their hand.

    A majority of fans who actally go to the games do not want anything to do with the Maze, yet we have Whitehead from the SIB blatantly lying about this on Nolan Live on BBC1 last night.

    The Maze is simply a convenient but very expensive way of papering over a dark period of our history with a sugary, shiny stadium which will be our own local answer to the Millennium Dome.

    Belfast has woken up at last with some alternative bids which apply some common sense. I just hope it isn’t too late – for all of us, wherever we live.

  • Aaron

    “A majority of fans who actally go to the games do not want anything to do with the Maze, yet we have Whitehead from the SIB blatantly lying about this on Nolan Live on BBC1 last night.”

    First of all, I don’t think we have any serious research which proves your claim. Only the loud claims of supporters groups doing spurious work to highlight their own agendas.

    Secondly, the stadium isn’t for ‘the fans who actually go to the games’. It’s for the population as a whole, many of whom believe spectator sport in NI is something they wouldn’t feel comfortable attending.

    I think a (resonably) neutral non-urban location would do this job much better in NI than a city centre location.

    And that’s speaking as a far who actually goes to the games.

    “the track record for stadia in Europe and in the UK especially is that they dodn’t work when th are built in the sticks, but do tend to work whn they are built in an urban environment.”

    Well, that’s just ludicrous. There are plenty of succesful examples of both locations. I guess it depends how you define ‘the sticks’, though.

  • GavBelfast

    Aaron, all will be revealed shortly in terms of what supporters really think.

    In the mantime, rather than shouting “ludicrous”, let’s be having your examples of successful stadia away from urban environments elsewhere in the UK.


  • Aaron

    Gav, you still haven’t told me how you define ‘the sticks’. I’ll give you two examples of successful stadiums that are as ‘inaccessible’ as the Maze will be – Wembley, Twickenham and the Madejski Stadium in Reading. And I’ve barely even thought about it.

    But more to the point, if you’re right, what’s to stop us breaking the mould? Our population is heavily car-dependent anyway, so any city centre location needs significant amounts of car parking space anyway.

  • GavBelfast

    Aaron, thanks for the reply.

    I’m afraid using comparisons like Twickenham and Wembley, both well within London and in built-up areas with their own existing community of bars, shops and restaurants as well as extensive public transport are, to use your word, “ludicrous”. How can you possibly compare the Maze site with them?

    I’ll look into the Reading example.

    Shouldn’t we be trying to get people OUT of their cars, and what of people who don’t have access to their own private transport?

    What of people who are supposed to work in the ersatz pubs, cafes, etc, that we are told will spring-up at the Maze? How do these workers, who are bound to be low waged as the catering trades tend to be, get there and home? What keeps them in a job when sports events are not going on? Are people going to go for an evening out at the Maze? Don’t make me laugh.

    I don’t want public money being wasted on what is likely to be a monumental folly when there are senssible alternatives available in Belfast or where the three main sports could be given money, properly accounted for, to bring their existing grounds up to scratch – if £85m is the figure for this new stadium (and it would be bound to increase – these things always do), £28m each would make a hugh difference to Windsor, Casement and Ravenhill.