Another option

While the row continues about how the sites for the national stadium were assessed it appears that another option was not fully explored, the upgrade of the three existings sites. In a written answer, DCAL Minister Poots said:

The Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure (DCAL) has not carried out an appraisal of the cost of upgrading (1) Windsor Park (2) Ravenhill and (3) Casement Park

Full answer.

Upgrading of Sports Venues
Mr Nelson McCausland asked the Minister of Culture, Arts and Leisure if his Department has carried out an appraisal of the cost of upgrading (1) Windsor Park (2) Ravenhill and (3) Casement Park and if so, what are those costs likely to be. (AQW 866/07) Mr Poots: The Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure (DCAL) has not carried out an appraisal of the cost of upgrading (1) Windsor Park (2) Ravenhill and (3) Casement Park as this is primarily a matter for the owners of the venues, ie Linfield FC/Irish Football Association (IFA), the Irish Rugby Football Union (IRFU)/Ulster Rugby and the Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA) respectively. However, DCAL, together with Sport Northern Ireland (SNI) and the Strategic Investment Board (SIB), is currently in discussion with the owners of these stadia about their future facility requirements and the related cost implications.

  • Glensman

    This sounds like a much better option to me. I don’t think there is any need for a ‘national’ stadium which would sit empty most of the time when we have stadia in steady use that have the support of the communities that use them.

  • “The Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure (DCAL) has not carried out an appraisal…”

    What a joke!

  • PeaceandJustice

    Upgrading current sites seems the best option i.e. have a separate National Stadium for each of the sports.

  • snakebrain

    P&J

    No, no, no, no, no

    That would just be another element in the already too divided architecture of our society.

    Pick one of those three, or another site in Belfast, and make it the primary venue for all major sporting events.

  • Glensman

    No Snakebrain,

    This isn’t about ‘division’ its about having 3 fit for purpose stadia in place, that way giving people a natural home for their sport.

    We do not need a white elephant that we can be ‘proud’ of, we need a spread of facilities that will be financially viable.

    This is not about religion or politics- it’s about sport and infrastructure.

  • The problem with the whole project is that Northern Ireland football fans have basically hijacked it due to their deluded sense of self-imprtance.

    Both GAA and Ulster Rugby have been far better supported than the N.Ireland team over many years here, but NI fans think that they should have the primary say in where the stadium is sited. It is only 2 or 3 years ago that N.Ireland were getting average crowds of just 6 or 7,000 at Windsor Park and once their current run ends, there is every chance that it will only be their small hard core of support who will be turning up for their games.

    Poots and Paisley need to stand firm and ensure that the Maze project goes ahead despite the wildly diproportionate campaign by NI fans.

  • Belfast Gonzo

    David McNarry has called for Plug to resign, for being beholden to the DUP and not the Assembly…

  • We do not need a white elephant that we can be ‘proud’ of, we need a spread of facilities that will be financially viable

    We also need a full independent judicial review of everything that has gone on in this sorry case.

    It is a disgrace that it’s a bunch of football supporters (no slight intended) and not any of our local journalists that have managed to force the authorities to reveal the original plan and all its flaws.

    We can not afford to waste hundreds of millions on the white elephant stadium -we have so many more causes that are so much more deserving of the funds.

  • Macswiney,
    Cannot agree I’m afraid.

    Poots’s response demonstrates that there was never any serious consideration given to any of the other sites.

    Why? Because a Lilburn man wasn’t interested in looking at any of them.

    N.I. deserve a huge say in this. The GAA will not use the stadium very much. Like rugby, they already have grounds well equipped to stage their matches.

  • Frustrated Democrat

    Ballymena Showgrounds can do 20,000 seats for £30 million according to the radio this morning, now that is an option.

    I could live with not wasting £300m on a white elephant and giving the ‘leftovers’ to health and education etc.

    This should be closely looked at, if we need a stadium at all.

  • Glensman

    Correct Hanson,

    The GAA have particular pitch needs due to size and keep nets. This one size fits all approach does not work in this instance.

  • George

    After all the talk, 300 million sterling not to be spent on stadium in Northern Ireland shocker.

    After all the talk, people of Northern Ireland will have to pay water rates shocker.

  • George

    Glensman,
    the one size fits all worked fine for Croke Park so there is absolutely no reason it can’t work elsewhere if the will and need was there.

  • jpeters

    if its going to have to be one of the 3 mentioned above (which seems to be the majority view)

    then its going have to be ravenhill infastructure considerations aside

    the prods dont like casement and the taigs arn’t particularly fond of windsor

  • paul

    Does everybody assume that its only fair that each sports stadium gets upgraded to the exact same standard?
    Should the capacity be in line with each sport’s needs?
    If so, then on the basis of actual attendance figures you’d get

    1. a huge bill to upgrade Casement to a 40k all seater, fully covered stadium.
    Approximate cost? probably not a kick in the arse away from developing a new stadium from scratch.
    Disregarding of course that a. the site isn’t big enough anyway and b. it would be unlikely to get planning because of congestion, etc.

    2. an even bigger bill to upgrade the other two stadiums to 20k and 15k capacity.

    End result?

    a. an even higher bill
    b. a bunch of unionists howling that the GAA is getting more money than “their” sports.

  • jpeters

    paul

    thats why i said ravenhill. Rugby is the only sport almost no one has a grudge (except the ‘keep the sabbath’ crowd)

  • audley

    An upgraded stadium in Belfast might not be a bad idea for the GAA. It certainly preferable to the 3 day camel ride to clones

  • Paul

    “An upgraded stadium in Belfast might not be a bad idea for the GAA. It certainly preferable to the 3 day camel ride to clones”

    Agreed, but an out of town site would be even better.
    1. most GAA fans travel by car from South and west ulster. Congestion both on motorway and belfast city if 40k getting to match, especially within Belfast, as roads not designed to take those volumes at once, and are already congested anyway.
    2. less risk of sectarian harassment/disruption for GAA fans

  • Oranges for Sale

    As someone who plays neither Rugby, Football or a GAA sport, I couldn’t really care if a fucking stadium is built or not.

    All I know is that I pay an almost crippling amount of income tax each year so why should my tax money go towards paying for someone else’s HOBBY and a stadium that I’ll probably never bother to visit myself.

    Give me choice between an improved water service and a new national stadium, and the water service will win each time.

  • “2. less risk of sectarian harassment/disruption for GAA fans”

    Or from GAA fans.

  • Glensman

    I don’t think GAA fans would be asking for a 40k all seater. Most fans are still supporters of the terraces, i think what casement needs is a new clubhouse and a new stand. You wouldn’t be talking big straps of cash for any upgrade of Casement.

    Also a move away from Casement would have little support as it has huge history, when i travel there I find only moderate congestion in comparison to other GAA stadia around the country.

  • Glensman

    Hanson,

    Name one instance where GAA fans have haraassed/disrupted fans of another sport?
    Name ONE.

  • Cruimh

    How about the 1985 and 1987 bombings at Windsor ark Glensman ? 😉

  • jim

    If the soccer crowd stay at Windsor, can someone tell them to stop attacking buses of tourists, just because there is a leprechaun on the side of the bus.

    Its not good for the image og the city.

  • jim

    ‘How about the 1985 and 1987 bombings at Windsor ark Glensman’

    Was that the time the uff threw a grenade into the cliftonville crowd on the kop, trying to kill a few taigs ?

  • Paul

    “As someone who plays neither Rugby, Football or a GAA sport, I couldn’t really care if a fucking stadium is built or not.

    All I know is that I pay an almost crippling amount of income tax each year so why should my tax money go towards paying for someone else’s HOBBY and a stadium that I’ll probably never bother to visit myself.

    Give me choice between an improved water service and a new national stadium, and the water service will win each time. ”

    OrangesForSale,

    the money is ringfenced for a new shared stadium.
    If its not used, it will go back to the UK treasury.

  • Paul

    “I don’t think GAA fans would be asking for a 40k all seater. Most fans are still supporters of the terraces, i think what casement needs is a new clubhouse and a new stand. You wouldn’t be talking big straps of cash for any upgrade of Casement.

    Also a move away from Casement would have little support as it has huge history, when i travel there I find only moderate congestion in comparison to other GAA stadia around the country. ”

    Glensman,

    say that the next time its pissing down on 30k at casement / clones whatever.
    Paying £17 for the pleasure of sitting on a cold concrete bench and getting soaked at Casement is a joke.
    GAA venues are dated and decrepit.
    The GAA itself recognises this, and has instructed each province to focus on providing one top class modern, at least 2/3 seated and covered stadium.
    Fully covered means more consistent and higehr attendances.

    Why should GAA fans settle for anything less than equal facilities given to lesser supported sports?

  • Cruimh

    “Why should GAA fans settle for anything less than equal facilities given to lesser supported sports? ”

    For Faith and Fatherland !

  • Glensman

    Trust me Criumh i do it week in week out, always stand on the terrace whatever the weather.

    I am not however saying that GAA fans should settle for less. Two thirds seated stadia would be very suitable in my opinion.

    As for the ridiculous comments about GAA fans throwing bombs at Windsor, what can I say, wise up.

  • idunnomeself

    So did any of these bodies submit their stadiums as potential sites for the National Stadium?

    And if they didn’t what are they whinging about?

    red herring

  • MacAnswers please

    Macswiney

    Some facts: NI attendances have increased massively in the last 5 years.

    The current ground is not fit for purpose.

    A new ground is needed, mandatory for continued participation in international competition from our home location.

    What is your proposal to resolve ?

    Caveat: NI football is internationally recognised, competitive and making great strides in the fight against sectarianism in recent years. We are a fact of sporting life, not going anywhere and require support. I would hazard a guess that combined audience in terms of TV/clubs & pubs and home viewers isn’t far off exceeding SF’s electoral mandate.

    I look forward to your apolotical response.

  • Glensman

    That was hardly Apolitical yourself.

    To begin with this is not just for soccer, i’m all for the N.I soccer team having a fit for purpose stadium. But this whole thread aims to point out that there are other options.

    What this has to do with SF’s mandate (bigger than the DUP or UUP) is anyone’s guess.

  • the money is ringfenced for a new shared stadium.
    If its not used, it will go back to the UK treasury.

    There is no “money” to “ringfence” because we don’t yet have a viable business-plan from the pro-Mazers, so, they haven’t yet had the courage to reveal how much is needed and from what sources.

    We don’t know how much money is expected to come directly from the central budget (ie independent of that already earmarked for NI), how much directly from funds allocated to the DCAL budget, how much from Lisburn ratepayers and how much from those famous “private investors”.

    Money could be “diverted” towards the project from funds already heading towards NI, hence Robinson’s caution:

    But Finance Minister Peter Robinson must believe the Maze makes financial sense before he signs off on it… and even as his party leader was ruling out Ormeau Park he very publicly told journalists that he hadn’t even had sight of a business plan for any of the proposed schemes – Maze included.

    If he knew that this is going to be 100% extra funding, then why worry about it making “financial sense”, it’s all new money.

    idunnomyself
    So did any of these bodies submit their stadiums as potential sites for the National Stadium?

    No, none of three bodies are suggesting their stadiums should become the National Stadium. The question is whether individually Casement,Windsor and Ravenhill are updated for their own sports and we knock the national stadium idea on the head completely.

  • The GAA is a profoundly sectarian organization. Anyone who wears a t-shirt celebrating the Hunger Strikers is harassing any Prod who sees them.

  • jim

    ‘would hazard a guess that combined audience in terms of TV/clubs & pubs and home viewers isn’t far off exceeding SF’s electoral mandate’

    Not like a n.i fan to be obsessed with politics 🙂

    ‘rule britannia’

  • jpeters

    “The GAA is a profoundly sectarian organization. Anyone who wears a t-shirt celebrating the Hunger Strikers is harassing any Prod who sees them.”

    Hanson im not a big fan of the GAA (my reasons are non policital) but really what planet are you on with a statement like this?

  • Well my reasons are political.

    I live in N.I. which is where IRA scum murdered people – hence I don’t like to see their actions glorified.

  • Cahal

    If the IFA soccer team don’t get a new stadium, where will they play their games?

    Isn’t Windsor too shit to pass new FIFA regulations?

    Should teams who can’t afford a stadium be allowed to play international soccer?

    Perhaps they can play at Croker for a while, rent free, until they can save up a few quid.

  • jpeters

    ‘IRA scum murdered people ‘

    Im not disputing that. what it has to do with this thread i have no idea. but to associate the GAA with physical force republicanism on a blanket basis is ludicrous. rememner the GAA is an all ireland organisation which pe dates the PIRA by decades, it has its faults (and im no defender of them) but its essentially a cultural organisation

  • Perhaps they can play at Croker for a while, rent free, until they can save up a few quid.

    Why not Casement?
    I’m sure the Antrim GAA wouldn’t mind.

  • Cruimh

    “rememner the GAA is an all ireland organisation which pe dates the PIRA by decades, it has its faults (and im no defender of them) but its essentially a cultural organisation ”

    JP – it’s much the same as the OO in these respects – two aspects – cultural and political, and has the same weakness – the central body has problems with semi-autonomous units. The Hunger strikes ? Antrim GAA figures and Gerry Adams launched a GAA “style” hunger strike commemoration shirt – and as with individual lodges commemorating members who were terrorists, so do some GAA clubs.

  • idunnomeself

    oneill

    I’ve heard it all now, knock down and rebuild three stadiums, all on constricted sites, and 2 of which aren’t even owned by the sporting bodies concerned

    Is going to be cheaper than a single stadium for everyone?

    I am getting a bit glum, the anti Maze lobby is making some sensible points (and some stupid ones), but they have no workable option for a Belfast stadium, we’re going to end up with nothing

  • I’ve heard it all now, knock down and rebuild three stadiums, all on constricted sites, and 2 of which aren’t even owned by the sporting bodies concerned

    I don’t know if they have to be completely knocked down and rebuilt, McCausland’s question was only concerning *upgrading*.

    Is going to be cheaper than a single stadium for everyone?

    I’ve really no idea, this is why we need a proper independently costed business plan for each of the options. It’s three years since this “technical” appraisal of the options was commissioned, why has it taken so long for the financial side of things to be considered?
    I suspect the reason is that the NIO’s preferred Maze option doesn’t make sense on economic grounds and I think Peter Robinson is going to be the key figure in all this when that business-plan finally sees the light of day.

    I am getting a bit glum, the anti Maze lobby is making some sensible points (and some stupid ones), but they have no workable option for a Belfast stadium, we’re going to end up with nothing

    I’m no longer convinced that there is a viable, cost-effective Belfast alternative venue for a new stadium. The pro-Belfast lobby has had enough time to prepare their case; they haven’t done so and instead concentrated on making sure the Maze didn’t happen, whilst hoping something else would pop up in the meantime. It hasn’t. But I wouldn’t be so glum though with ending up without a new stadium; we’re a country of just over one and half million people, we’ve more than enough sports grounds and facilities to keep us going- we just have to be a bit more clever in how we use them.

  • Doctor Who

    The pro Maze lobby, have divided themselves into two lobbies.

    1. The anti NI football team bigots, who would rather see no stadium than the national football team have it´s own much needed new complex.

    2. The people who are not sports fans and will probably never use any new complex. Poots falling onto this category.

    The upgrading of the three venues, will have to happen anyway before any new stadium is complete. The cost of these upgrades and a new 25,000 seat stadium in Belfast will still be far less expensive and more commercially viable than a white elephant in a field near Lisburn.

  • Pounder

    Personally I don’t mind where the national stadium is as long as it’s not in Windsor Park. I like the idea of a stadium at the Maze. There are viable transport links with just a little work. I would feel no more comfortable attending Casement Park than I do attending Windsor Park.

  • big jim

    ‘And a new 25,000 seat stadium in Belfast will still be far less expensive and more commercially viable than a white elephant in a field near Lisburn.’

    Is it true it will be called the ‘orangedome’ ?

  • ian

    ‘Why not Casement?
    I’m sure the Antrim GAA wouldn’t mind.’

    The ‘no surrender’ chants would be very popular during the english anthem & the loyalist stormont flag would look well flying on the A/town Road.

  • The Third Policeman

    I’m pretty sure Antrim GAA had nothing to do with the Hunger Striker and blanketmen tops, it was purely between O’Neills and SF or some other Repblican body I think. I remember talking to a fella who worked in the O’Neills shop in Andytown who said they’d removed the tops after pressure from the GAA itself.

    Also, aside from Kevin Lynch’s Hurling club in Dungiven I can’t think of any other GAA club named after an IRA man or women (correct me if you can think of any). This is a new name for the club I think and represents Dungiven more than it represents the GAA. There are however a good few clubs named after older nationalist figures such as Wolfe Tone, Robert Emmett and O’Donovan Rossa. I’m sure most Unionists aren’t crazy about these names but I would hardly take offence at a band named after Carson.

    At the end of the day the GAA will always promote the Irish language, Irish dance and Irish sports. Thats the point of the organisation. It saved gaelic games from the brink of extinction. As much as I would love Unionists to join and enjoy what is truely a wonderful series of sports I would not sacrafise the Gaelic aspects of the organisation.

  • willowfield

    IDUNNOMESELF

    I am getting a bit glum, the anti Maze lobby is making some sensible points (and some stupid ones), but they have no workable option for a Belfast stadium, we’re going to end up with nothing

    It’s up to the Government and the sporting bodies to build a stadium in the right place, not the anti-Maze lobby.

    The anti-Maze lobby is calling for a fair, open and honest process that doesn’t have a pre-determined outcome. The one that was designed to pick Maze is, slowly but surely, being shown to have been flawed and unacceptable.

  • willowfield

    POUNDER

    I like the idea of a stadium at the Maze. There are viable transport links with just a little work.

    Are you being serious?

  • Cahal

    The ‘national’ stadium? Nice one.

  • jpeters

    JP – it’s much the same as the OO in these respects – two aspects – cultural and political, and has the same weakness – the central body has problems with semi-autonomous units. The Hunger strikes ? Antrim GAA figures and Gerry Adams launched a GAA “style” hunger strike commemoration shirt – and as with individual lodges commemorating members who were terrorists, so do some GAA clubs.

    Posted by Cruimh on Jul 05, 2007 @ 05:56 PM

    Sorry about delay in replying
    your analysis is only broadly correct, the functions of the GAA are very different from those of the OO and there is less scope for any sectarian members of the GAA to impact on the lives of the unionist community, also the central ruling body has more powers than the OO hiararchy and more control over the clubs (not total of course it is primarily concerned with sport after all!) Also as an all ireland body in practice rather than principal the ruling body of the GAA has a wider perspective and is unlikely to condone the actions of members that are illegal or inflammatory

    saying all that the GAA usually manages to make me feel sick (but as said above for other reasons! more related to buck than bang)

  • Glensman

    The Third Policeman is correct, the GAA were dead against the hungerstrike tops, which were made in the GAA style, not by the GAA. O’Neill’s were forced by the GAA to stop producing them.

    To say that the GAA is a ‘sectarian’ organisation is so false it shows ignorance on vehalf of the poster.

    Would i say that cricket is sectarian? NO!

  • fair_deal

    Glensman/jpeters

    FYI

    Link 1
    Link 2
    Link 3

  • jpeters

    doesnt really invalidate my point. AN incident in belfast and an isolated one at that surely cant be representative of an organisation

    your own post shows that there was debate and controversy with in the various GAA bodies regarding this and that the event was specifically against the rules of this sporting organisation

    also its not as if it comes on the back of a history of events like this

    ps it would be so easy to indulge in a good bout of whataboutery right now! then i realise i find the GAA and OO to distasteful event to start

  • “but to associate the GAA with physical force republicanism on a blanket basis is ludicrous”

    Two words – Casement Park

  • Oh and well done fair_deal – elequently put.

  • fair_deal

    jpeters

    “AN incident in belfast and an isolated one”

    Link 1 is not in Belfast and the GAA president participated. There was an extensive programme for the Hunger strike events this included a number of GAA competitions and use of facilities. So it was not “isolated”. There was another such event a couple of months ago.

  • gram

    Rather than Orangedome I like the name “terrordome” myself. Think how nervous foreign teams are going to feel coming to the Terrordome.

    The anti-maze lobby have yet to come up with a viable alternative. They do their cause a major disservice by aligning their campaign with those who oppose the Maze project on sectarian grounds (due to the siting of the H block reconciliation centre). What the anti-maze lobby should be doing is building a consensus with the GAA supporters and RFU for locating the stadium in Belfast.

    I think most people on all sides of the debate agree the stadium should be located in Belfast and it’s clear the stadium should be located in the Titanic quarter. As the government have ring fenced the money for the stadium its now up to Belfast City council to put up the money to purchase the land necessary in the Titanic quarter so that the scheme can go ahead there.

  • Cruimh

    was any disciplinary action taken against those in the antrim GAA who participated ?

  • jpeters

    hanson

    never let the evidence get in the way of the debate eh?

    i can’t believe your making me do this im just setting the record straight in the light of the available evidence

    please note my take on events above now if you can string together a coherant history which proves that since its inception up to its present day atitudes that the GAA is an irredeemably sectarian organisation bent on espousing physical force republicanism im all ears

    90% my experience of the GAA not that it will matter to you consisted of one set of players kicking lumps out of the other with optional crowd participation a form of polite savegery

  • Glensman

    Fair_Deal,

    That’s the same Nicky Brennan who said that he would be delighted if more protestants took up Gaelic Games and that they would be made very welcome (as they have been in the past).

    Doesn’t sound like a very sectarian man to me. I myself have played hurling with protestants, it’s just sport. Religion shouldn’t be an inhibitor to sport.

    People like yourself are so busy labelling others that you never take the opportunity afforded to you to find out for yourself.

  • jim

    ‘its now up to Belfast City council to put up the money to purchase the land necessary in the Titanic quarter so that the scheme can go ahead there.’

    As a Belfast rate payer the council can go and take a running jump if they think i’m funding a stadium.

    ‘was any disciplinary action taken against those in the antrim GAA who participated ?’

    Probably the same disciplinary action taken by the IFA against Glentoran’s commemoration of pup/uvf leader David Ervine.

  • jpeters

    i have to feel here that some of the contributors may have let their views on SF brand of nationalism (which may be justified) tinge there views of the GAA which has remained pretty innocuous as far as politics goes, i only hope its not being singled out because its association with the RCs

    I think there may be a subconscious urge to bite back against the anti OO position of other contributors which always comes out at this time of year

  • gram

    Jim:As a Belfast rate payer the council can go and take a running jump if they think i’m funding a stadium.<

  • jim

    ‘It’s obvious that the enconomy of Belfast will benefit from having the stadium located in the city? Thus the city should pay towards it’s construction’

    All 3 sporting codes already have stadia within the city, how will the city benifit when the fans are already coming ?

    In fact i would think the whole region will suffer if a 20-25k stadium is built in the city.

    The IRFU have stated that they would consider staging full internationals at the Maze, the GAA have talkes of Ulster semi/finals etc.

    None of this wil happen if the DUP & the football supporters get their way.

    I think the term ‘Orangedome’ would be quite apt, should the 20k stadium go ahead in Belfast.

    Strange that the least supported code has such a hold on the dup.

  • “now if you can string together a coherant history which proves that since its inception up to its present day atitudes that the GAA is an irredeemably sectarian organisation bent on espousing physical force republicanism im all ears”

    Did Rodger Casment espouse “physical force republicanism “?

    Did the Hunger Strikers espouse “physical force republicanism “?

    “never let the evidence get in the way of the debate eh?”

    Look at the links fair_deal posted and catch yourself on.

  • Realist

    “Was that the time the uff threw a grenade into the cliftonville crowd on the kop, trying to kill a few taigs ?”

    And some Cliftonville fans cheered, thinking it was a grenade attack on the Peelers.

    Real belief now that this White Elephant will not proceed.