Robinson plays it cool

Finance Minister, Peter Robinson, is leaving his options opens regarding the Maze development. Meanwhile, the News Letter has added its voice to those of Jim Allister and Tom Elliott for the delisting of the Maze buildings.

  • DC

    Are all the political parties having an open mind about it?

    All I seem to read is that everyone heaps the shit on Poots to answer for everyone who seems to be complaining.

    I think the Maze is a great idea and is probably one of the only concepts that actually doesn’t try to concrete over the past.

    To those who want a stadium in Belfast I would say fair enough but where do you want to put it and look at the other opportunities being wasted.

    Secondly, people say about distance and how a change of location will be a nightmare to following fans. But comparators have been used with large cities were stadiums have moved however in reality Lisburn is easily accessible and isn’t that far away.

    Thirdly, the Maze ought to be kepty open with a view to offering a look-in to the past with both traditions being catered for and a history of the conflict and victims being displayed in an historical sense.

    Here is a link to a former Stasi camp on the outskirts of Berlin. A site which is an attraction in itself, despite the horrible past that it has and the desire I am sure many had to flatten it.

    http://en.stiftung-hsh.de/index.php

    Politicians need to think outside the box and look at the potential the overall package has in terms of tourism and just how the vast array of sports and traditions being catered for.

    Finally, I’m fed up with people dodging the subject – if they are going to complain about the Maze lets hear, especially political parties and their supporters, the reasons why not or why they feel elsewhere is better and on what grounds.

    When the Maze is mentioned I get the feeling of passing the buck and a lot of finger-crossing from those with responsibility in sports and government.

  • PeaceandJustice

    DUP Minister for the Environment Arlene Foster should de-list it. The Sinn Fein IRA death squad members in the Government will try to turn it into a shrine to the terrorists who committed suicide in the Maze.

  • Maud’s gone

    The Long Kesh/Maze history, especially the 1981 episode speaks harshly of British policy in the 6 counties at the time. It is one chapter in history that cannot be re-written by the British. It was obvious at the time, and subsequently, that the world sympathized with the hunger strikers and the dirty protest prisoners of war. Of course there are elements who would rather that this period were forgotten.
    However, in the grand scheme of things, events pivotal in the recent history of the conflict occurred in the Long Kesh, and as such, it should be maintained, not as a shrine to any particular people (we all have our own opinion, a “shrine” isn’t going to change that) but as a tangible reminder of how far we have come through this harsh war. Let it be a celebration of what has been acheived and what we hope to acheive.

  • jim

    ‘DUP Minister for the Environment Arlene Foster should de-list it.’

    Arlene Foster is supportive of the Maze project.

    Good to see Sam Gardiner MLA coming out in support of the Maze stadium.

  • Kevster

    The H-Blocks are historical buildings. I believe if they are presented in an historical context, much could be conveyed to improve an understanding of the events that led to what happened there, and how what occurred there changed the course of the conflict.

    That isn’t a shrine, it is a place where one can learn and perhaps reach an understanding. People should give it a chance and see how it turns out.

  • Good to see Sam Gardiner MLA coming out in support of the Maze stadium.

    jim

    That’s the same Sam Gardiner who said this?

    The Maze is as close to Lurgan and Banbridge as it is to Lisburn. In fact, it lies more or less midway between Lisburn and Lurgan

  • DC

    Finally, I’m fed up with people dodging the subject – if they are going to complain about the Maze lets hear, especially political parties and their supporters, the reasons why not or why they feel elsewhere is better and on what grounds.

    Re the sports stadium side of it, most of the dodging has been done by both the NIO and now apparently the DCAL and Poots. Their assessment of the various options was flawed and even then had to be pulled out of them via the FOI procedures. Also, they appear frightened of letting the public know the true costs of the project- let’s bring it all into the open and let the public decide.

    But you’re right in one respect, it’s all been too anti-Maze, not enough work has been done to look at other potential sites

    When the Maze is mentioned I get the feeling of passing the buck and a lot of finger-crossing from those with responsibility in sports and government.

    I believe that’s the result of the first problem I outlined, the failure to be honest with the public about all the implications of the Maze project. Now it looks like Poots is going to be made the fall-guy for this whatever happens; it’s interesting, for example, that Jeffrey Donaldson a previously very vocal pro-Mazer, has been almost mute on the subject in the last few months

  • PeaceandJustice

    jim – “Arlene Foster is supportive of the Maze project.”

    Can you post some links to back up that statement? I’m sure that like Nigel Dodds, she doesn’t want a shrine to murdering terrorist scum – given what Sinn Fein IRA did to her own family.

    How would it look to international visitors: ‘Welcome to Northern Ireland UK where we celebrate the murder, torture and ethnic cleansing carried out by Sinn Fein IRA terrorists. The Northern Ireland Deputy First Minister will be on-hand to give talks on how his own SF IRA death squad destroyed families, bombed shopping centres and robbed banks in the name of freedom’. What a joke.

    On a practical issue, the stadium is better in Belfast. Poots and Paisley should be sent off to the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff where they might learn a thing or two. The DUP needs to listen to grassroots opinion if they want the continued support of the Unionist community.

  • DC

    Well let me tell you this, I wish Peter Robinson, Paisley and Poots had been a good deal more open minded about a few other things over the last 30 years.

    I thought these resolute men would have resolute ideas and policies in the face of upcoming Assembly decisions.

    But clearly not its 123 Review, open-minded this and that.

    Seriously, Im not impressed and that goes across the whole political spectrum.

    You would think politicians would be in a position to know such things as costings etc but its all to do with washing their hands of contentious issues when not so long ago they would have had a clear direction and jumped in two-footed.

    Anyway, lets all wait and see for the consultants to dictate and frame it in a way diplomatically.

  • You would think politicians would be in a position to know such things as costings etc but its all to do with washing their hands of contentious issues when not so long ago they would have had a clear direction and jumped in two-footed.

    But that’s the thing, DC, I’m almost positive that a costing has been done and Poots, at least, is aware of its findings- he, the DCAL and NIO are not just not too open about revealing it to the public.

    Although to be fair to Edwin (and it’s hard), he has been prepared to stand up and take the heat on this issue when others, notably Donaldson, have taken the coward’s way out.

  • DC

    Well I imagine there is an element of risk involved with any business plan when operating along the lines of private enterprise.

    It’s understandable that costings can be revealed but repayments are likely based on speculative visitor numbers, hosted games, private sector buy-in and marketing of the site at large.

    However, it’s clear that there should be some party principles over the matter regardless of whether the place turns a profit or not or even how the money is to be made in future should it go ahead.

    It’s not about playing fast or loose its about having an idea of where politicians and people are coming from before looking into it further.

    As far as I can see the whole political landscape is guilty of it and maybe that is fair enough but what chance any transparency from the parties as to a preferred choice of site?

  • confused

    The national stadium should be built in Belfast at the fore shore of Belfast Lough where there is plenty of reclaimed land.
    There are good road connections with the M2 and a train station can be located there.
    The Maze site should be flattened and then used for housing and light industries to provide jobs.
    This can be done without forgetting what happened in the former prison.
    Those interested in conflict resolution can ask the Universities to take on this responsibility on campus.
    What need is there to actually visit a prison cell when one cell looks exactly like another unless you want to keep the hatred and emotion which existed on that site. To do this will only perpetuate the divisions in our society.

  • T.Ruth

    Why is the Harbour Land so expensive-why is it not considered as a suitable place for a stadium? How did the community/people come not to own the land held in trust for them by the Harbour Commissioners? When will we have an investigative journalist who will open this can of worms? There are two thousand acres and more being created by infilling. What is the role of a former Head of the Civil service in the control of land in the harbour/Port Area?. Who owns the land? How did they come to own it?
    T.Ruth

  • DC

    “The national stadium should be built in Belfast at the fore shore of Belfast Lough where there is plenty of reclaimed land.”

    Do you ever remember the company Road&Sea transport – they had a warehouse placed out on reclaimed land, damn thing subsided.

    I am unsure whether it is possible to build something like a new stadium out on reclaimed land but the other aspect is also do you want it so close to an isolated piece of nothingness among plenty of waste disposal and industrial pre-fabs and sky-high guls ready to shit on the green and white army 🙂

    Anyway…good point – if anyone can confirm what’s wrong with the foreshore then please do.

  • Comrade Stalin

    DC:

    Finally, I’m fed up with people dodging the subject – if they are going to complain about the Maze lets hear, especially political parties and their supporters, the reasons why not or why they feel elsewhere is better and on what grounds.

    The question of the Maze stadium is an easy one. The proposed site has no infrastructure, poor road and rail links, no hotels and no local amenities to speak of. It will become a white elephant. I do not want my taxpayer’s dough to be spent on it. End of.

    I don’t care where they build the stadium, or even whether we have one or not. But if they do build one, it needs to be in a place where it will work. Like in the docks area, where there’s loads of land going. Or around Duncrue. Easy access to road and rail, and the city for hotels, restaurants and nightlife, where visiting spectators can go after the match and spread some dough around in our local economy.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Of course you can build things on the foreshore, on reclaimed land. If you don’t believe that, go check out the Odyssey some time. The Odyssey proves that a stadium built nearby could work.

  • willowfield

    DC

    Are you for real? Out-of-town stadiums?

    It’s 2007: not 1987. All expert opinion shows that stadiums need to be built in centres of population, not in isolated locations.

    I can’t believe in 2007 any sane person would be advocating a car-dependent development like the Maze. Talk about having your head in the sand. Look into the future!

  • roger

    cs

    Poor road links ?

    There’s a big motorway running past the site

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  • Tkmaxx

    T. Ruth
    RE: Harbour lands – 95% of all Harbour lands are currently in use. Check the facts. Take a run around the site to see how many businesses already operate there. The new land needed is no different to other ports – needing land closer to the mouth of the port -as ships are much bigger. Its an issue about capacity.

  • DC

    “It’s 2007: not 1987. All expert opinion shows that stadiums need to be built in centres of population, not in isolated locations.”

    Ok well are you saying that the concept of the Maze site is unworkable.

    Distance is offset by the time it takes to get there. If we can all get there quick enough, quicker than a city centre site then whats the problem?

    Who doesn’t take their car everywhere? You saying I wouldn’t need to use my car if they were playing in Belfast?

    Should it just be Belfast because of any heritage associated with the football connection, what about the western side of Northern Ireland?

    It’s a planning issue ultimately in terms of regional development and future designs for Northern Ireland and those necessary drivers used to stimulate the economy.

    Lisburn and Belfast – Polycentric areas?

  • Personally I support the idea that the national stadium should be at the Maze. Re-development of Windsor is out of the question as I can hardly see GAA being welcomed there, the mirror reason for the idea of Casement Park getting a revamp. Ravenhill couldn’t accomodate 20,000 fans decenting on it. The residents around Ormeau Park don’t want it as it’ll be too noisey for their fragile sensabilities(looking forward to Tennants Vital then?). What other option is there? There is a motorway near by the Maze and according to the Lord Mayor of Lisburn who I recenty spoke to there is a disused railway line running by the area which can be used. Lisburn may not be the ideal venue but what is the alternative? The DUP in typical fashion are quick to tear something down but rarely offer a viable alternative.

  • willowfield

    Roger

    Poor road links ? There’s a big motorway running past the site

    Yes, and that just happens to be the only main road to the site. Belfast, in contrast, has dozens, including two motorways, and several A-roads. Not to mention two railway lines and an airport.

    DC

    Distance is offset by the time it takes to get there. If we can all get there quick enough, quicker than a city centre site then whats the problem?

    Distance isn’t an issue: it’s location.
    But for it will take far longer to get to the Maze, since there will only be one major route in and out of the site and inadequate public transport. Most people will spend a lot of time sitting in traffic queues.

    Who doesn’t take their car everywhere?

    Lots of people don’t take their car everywhere and the numbers will increase through necessity as we move into the future.

    You saying I wouldn’t need to use my car if they were playing in Belfast?

    I don’t know your personal circumstances, but the location of the stadium isn’t going to be determined by your personal needs and desires. What I can tell you, though, is that in Belfast many people would be able to access the site by foot and by public transport, unlike at the Maze.

    Should it just be Belfast because of any heritage associated with the football connection, what about the western side of Northern Ireland?

    It should be Belfast because it is the only location where a stadium could be viable, and the only location with the necessary infrastructure to support a stadium.

    Pounder

    Personally I support the idea that the national stadium should be at the Maze.

    You’re not a football supporter, then?

    What other option is there?

    1. Titanic Quarter
    2. North Foreshore

    There is a motorway near by the Maze and according to the Lord Mayor [sic] of Lisburn who I recenty spoke to there is a disused railway line running by the area which can be used.

    There are two motorways actually in Belfast, numerous major roads, and three railway lines (and a fourth disused line)! The railway line referred to by the Mayor of Lisburn does not go to the Maze site, but “near” it.
    Lisburn may not be the ideal venue but what is the alternative?

    Belfast

  • For the record I am a football supporter, though due to other activities in my life I don’t get the chance to attend as many NI games as I’d like. Also as a Glentoran fan the idea of Linfield getting a percentage of the gate sticks in my craw.

    The Titanic Quarter is all booked up with appartment developments and I’m still hopeful of H&W getting a few more contracts before they go tits up.

    Could you elabourate more on the plans for North Foreshore as this is the first time I’ve heard it mentioned as a site.

  • willowfield

    POUNDER

    For the record I am a football supporter …

    Then why are you advocating a move to a stadium designed to meet the needs of other sports, in a ridiculous location, and the consequences of which could imperil the future of Northern Irish football?

    The Titanic Quarter is all booked up with appartment developments and I’m still hopeful of H&W getting a few more contracts before they go tits up.

    Titanic Quarter could be made available for the stadium if there was the will to do so.

    Could you elabourate more on the plans for North Foreshore as this is the first time I’ve heard it mentioned as a site.

    It was put forward as a site by Belfast City Council about three years ago, and ruled out in the sham “site selection” exercise which the Government was recently forced to publish following a complaint to the Information Commissioner under the Freedom of Information Act. It remains a potential site, available from Council at no cost.

  • Like I said I am a football supporter and I see an advantage in pooling the resources of other sports associations in the country. It’ll keep costs down and maybe gain other deserving sports a few new fans.

    BTW catch yourself on mate, Lisburn is hardly the middle of nowhere, untill recently it was a borough of Belfast so it’s really not that unreasonable.

  • willowfield

    POUNDER

    Like I said I am a football supporter and I see an advantage in pooling the resources of other sports associations in the country. It’ll keep costs down and maybe gain other deserving sports a few new fans.

    Pooling resources of other sports associations can happen in Belfast. Not sure, though, what costs it will keep down for the IFA. Currently rent is paid for Windsor Park: in future it would be paid to the Maze Stadium. Where are the reduced costs?

    What will happen if and when the stadium becomes – as is likely – a failure, rugby and GAA pull out, and football is left carrying the can? How will football afford the increased rent?

    BTW catch yourself on mate, Lisburn is hardly the middle of nowhere, untill recently it was a borough of Belfast so it’s really not that unreasonable.

    The stadium isn’t going to be in Lisburn: it’s planned for the Maze – an isolated, rural location.

    (And Lisburn has never been a “borough of Belfast”: that makes no sense.)

  • I doubt that the other sports would pull out, thats what good solicitors and contracts are for. In fact a failed stadium in Belfast would be more costly in terms of rates bills etc.

    You also seem to think ground rent is the only overhead, but what about ground maintainance, facilities management etc, in a combined stadium these overheads would be shared. What part of that cant you grasp?

    Also as for your adhomen attack on Lisburn and the Masze’s location I wasn’t aware that they’d become seperate, last time I checked the Maze was IN Lisburn.

  • willowfield

    POUNDER

    I doubt that the other sports would pull out, thats [sic] what good solicitors and contracts are for.

    The sports are only being asked to sign contracts for 10 years. When 10 years are up, rugby and GAA have other stadiums which they can use if the Maze isn’t working. Football won’t have another stadium and will be stuck out there.

    In fact a failed stadium in Belfast would be more costly in terms of rates bills etc.

    A stadium in Belfast wouldn’t fail as it would not be in an isolated location and therefore would be financially viable. Don’t you understand that stadiums need to be able to function all-year-round to maximise revenue?

    You also seem to think ground rent is the only overhead, but what about ground maintainance, facilities management etc, in a combined stadium these overheads would be shared. What part of that cant you grasp?

    A shared stadium doesn’t have to be at the Maze.

    Rent for the stadium quoted for football would be no cheaper than that already paid for Windsor Park, notwithstanding the fact that it would be shared. (The stadium cost is £140m+, you know!)

    Also as for your adhomen attack on Lisburn and the Masze’s location I wasn’t aware that they’d become seperate, last time I checked the Maze was IN Lisburn.

    I made no “adhomen” attack on Lisburn.

    The Maze is in the Lisburn council area but is is not in Lisburn city. Do you consider Crossmaglen to be in Armagh city just because it is in the Armagh council area?

  • marty (not ingram)

    Willowfield,
    A stadium in Belfast wouldn’t fail as it would not be in an isolated location and therefore would be financially viable. Don’t you understand that stadiums need to be able to function all-year-round to maximise revenue?

    I’d say your making a big assumption regarding the ability of the stadium to succeed, be it in Belfast or anywhere else for that matter.

    What’s the proposed capacity? 28,000 (correct me if I’m wrong)?

    Would Ulster rugby crowds pull in that much?

    The GAA are probably happy enough with Casement Park.

    That leaves NI matches. There’s a chance the arse will fall out of the team’s recent successes with the departure of Sanchez. Therefore attendances could well drop and additionally there’s the opposition teams that NI are typically drawn against. Ok, so NI got Spain, Sweden and Denmark for the Euro 2008 qualifiers, but in the past they’ve been in the same group as small former-Soviet states and other footballing non-entities, none of which send a huge crowd travelling.

    So there’s the chance that the main users of the stadium will not be filling it to capacity, or possibly anywhere near capacity.

    So what’s the point of spending all this cash again?

  • Therefore attendances could well drop and additionally there’s the opposition teams that NI are typically drawn against.

    marty
    I’m actually sympathetic towards your main argument, but you’ve used a bit of well dodgy logic to help justify it. There’s no way on earth of knowing which teams NI will be drawn against in the future and additionally there are only probably 10 teams or so anyway that would take any kind of following to NI (Spain for example certainly didn’t).

    Whether a 28,000 capacity stadium can be justified depends on whether 25,000 + NI fans could fill it for most matches and even if the present level of success continues, I doubt that’s the case.

    As you point out, Ulster Rugby (notwithstanding the odd meaningless friendy kindly donated by the IRFU) couldn’t fill 28,000 on a regular basis; the GAA have a number of stadiums within the 9 county Ulster area that have a higher capacity.

    So, it makes more economic sense for the DCAL, NIO, or whomever is making the decision, now to cut the losses and share amongst the three codes a significantly smaller amount of money than that needed to build a new stadium. The GAA, IFA and Ulster Rugby then do whatever the hell they like with the money.

  • marty (not ingram)

    oneill,
    I’m actually sympathetic towards your main argument, but you’ve used a bit of well dodgy logic to help justify it.
    :O) – i won’t argue with that

    There’s no way on earth of knowing which teams NI will be drawn against in the future and additionally there are only probably 10 teams or so anyway that would take any kind of following to NI (Spain for example certainly didn’t).
    That’s what I was trying to say in my post above, you’ve done it more succinctly however.

    So, it makes more economic sense for the DCAL, NIO, or whomever is making the decision, now to cut the losses and share amongst the three codes a significantly smaller amount of money than that needed to build a new stadium.
    Totally agree. I’m not against a new stadium, don’t really care where it is, however I’d like to be sure that there’s a good chance of the business benefits being realised before a large amount of cash is flushed down the bog.

  • willowfield

    MARTY

    I’d say your making a big assumption regarding the ability of the stadium to succeed, be it in Belfast or anywhere else for that matter.

    A fair point. But there can be no doubt that it is more likely to succeed in an urban, commercial environment, than at an isolated, rural location.
    What’s the proposed capacity? 28,000 (correct me if I’m wrong)? Would Ulster rugby crowds pull in that much?

    I believe it is 42,000 (!). Neither Ulster rugby nor Northern Ireland football would pull crowds of that size. But Ulster rugby won’t be using the stadium: they are getting money to develop Ravenhill and have only committed to playing European Cup quarter-finals in the stadium (they never qualify for the quarter-finals).

    That leaves NI matches. There’s a chance the arse will fall out of the team’s recent successes with the departure of Sanchez. Therefore attendances could well drop and additionally there’s the opposition teams that NI are typically drawn against. Ok, so NI got Spain, Sweden and Denmark for the Euro 2008 qualifiers, but in the past they’ve been in the same group as small former-Soviet states and other footballing non-entities, none of which send a huge crowd travelling.

    It’s not only results that affect the size of the crowd. The atmosphere inside the stadium is also a major factor – remember the crowds started coming back to watch Northern Ireland during the McIlroy era when we had our worst ever run of results. The reason the crowds came back was because of the exciting new atmosphere being generated by the fans. That atmosphere in turn inspired the team to success.

    A new stadium at the Maze will kill the atmosphere dead – imagine the half-empty stadium (worse than that for less-than-attractive opposition). And not only will the stadium size and design kill the atmosphere, but the location will, too. Fans will no longer be able to meet up, get a few drinks and walk to the stadium, building up the atmosphere beforehand – they’ll all be stuck in traffic. Many fans be late because of the jams, and then there will be the Old Trafford effect at the end, with people leaving early to beat the traffic.

    The diminished atmosphere and the traffic experience will discourage people from attending, thus starting a vicious circle. This will affect results, too.

  • confused

    To Willowfield
    On a factual point Ulster did indeed get past the QF of European cup when they won the competition at Landsdowne Road in front of 50,000 fans with many turned away.
    At QF stage I think they could easily attract 20,000 supporters and at other matches with the right marketing attendances should be in the region of 15,000

  • marty (not ingram)

    Willowfield,
    42000! Ye gads! Why so high?

    Regarding the Maze – isn’t one of Poots relatives (brother?) a senior figure in one of the companies that have a stake in using the Maze as the site? That’s the first reason that the Maze should be ruled out owing to a conflict of interest – either that or Poots leaves the post.

  • Regarding the Maze – isn’t one of Poots relatives (brother?) a senior figure in one of the companies that have a stake in using the Maze as the site?

    marty
    It’s not Poot’s brother.
    Slugger’s lawyers probably wouldn’t want me to say any more than that;)

  • willowfield

    CONFUSED

    On a factual point Ulster did indeed get past the QF of European cup when they won the competition at Landsdowne [sic] Road in front of 50,000 fans with many turned away.

    Yeah, I know, but that was 8 years ago and they haven’t qualified since.

    At QF stage I think they could easily attract 20,000 supporters and at other matches with the right marketing attendances should be in the region of 15,000

    So you agree that the proposed stadium is too big for them.

    MARTY

    42000! Ye gads! Why so high?

    The GAA has vetoed the design/size as well as the location.