Maze credibility

The credibility of the Maze report is in question after it was revealed that the DCAL Permanent Secretary Paul Sweeney would not sign off on the final report. The size and associated costs seems to be a major stumbling block to economic viability:

“To spend at least double the revenue just to insert an extra 8,500 seats in the plan doesn’t make financial sense”

  • steve48

    Congrats to Paul Sweeny for taking a stand.

  • joeCanuck

    Before anyone signs off on this proposal, they would be well advised to have a quick survey done of stadia built in the UK over the past 30 years and, specifically, compare initial projected costs with the final as-built costs.
    I’ll predict that there were significant differences with the final prices being higher, of course.

  • WindsorRocker

    Just what a lot of people had been saying from the start. To build something of that size from scratch when events of that size are few and far between in this country is farcical.

    Build a compact 20-25k for football and rugby and hand the GAA whatever of the remainder to do up Casement…. everyone’s happy.

  • janeymach

    “Congrats to Paul Sweeny for taking a stand.”

    Where does it say that he is taking a stand?

    When you read comments like Ulster Rugby are being redeveloped so unlikely to use a bigger stadium, you know that it is mere wishful thinking i.e., the capacity of Ravenhill is being reduced by redevelopment so they are going to need a bigger ground for all their European Cup games (at least 3) plus games against Leinster & Munster. Thats all good for NI tourism.

    WindsorRocker
    I’d doubt that Casement/Clones is big enough (when compared to any GAA stadia on the island – 3 stadia in Munster with 50K capacity, plus a few others 35K+) – and no Ulster GAA don’t have access to Croke Park as its Leinster’s home stadium as well, as you can only have a max of 4 games a weekend in Croker (which it frequently does).

    Be prepared to dig deep to upgrade Casement to a similar standard as what you are planning for rugby & football.

    Though wait a second now, it might be cheaper to build one facility for all sports (including an athletics track as well).

  • Granni Trixie

    Can anyone explain to me why a (republican)”conflict resolution centre” seems to be inextricably linked to the case for or against a new stadium at the Maze? Surely they ought to be separate issues?

  • ulsterfan

    Granni Trixi

    A very good question.
    I am also waiting for an answer.
    Surely the best place for a conflict resolution centre is at one of our universities where serious research can be carried out.
    I have grave doubts about those who want to turn it into a theme park easily manipulated for propaganda purposes.

  • janeymac

    ‘Surely the best place for a conflict resolution centre is at one of our universities where serious research can be carried out.”

    I think maybe enough research has been done on conflict and time maybe to get the research out of the universities and get conflict resolution into communities. Its very sad that there seems to be no neutral space in NI for this.

  • joeCanuck

    Its very sad that there seems to be no neutral space in NI for this.

    I doubt very much that the Maze would provide such a venue.

  • gram

    >Reports sent to Finance Minister Peter Robinson are understood to outline the long term financial risks to the taxpayer of building a ‘national stadium’ at the Maze, which will only utilise its planned 38,500 capacity once a year.

  • eranu

    the speed this whole thing is going at is unbelievable. how many years does it take to go from
    “yes! yes!, lets take something bad from the past (maze) and build something good for the future (all sports stadium)”
    to
    “erm, actually its a bit silly to build a stadium in the country. we should really build in in a city location like other countries have done.”

    the longer people go on about the maze location being a good location for anything the sillier they are making themselves look.

  • gram

    Belfast City council’s approach to this whole debate has been to try and find an oval shaped space somehwere in the city.

    They’ve failed miserably.

  • Paul

    WindsoRocker,

    [i]”Build a compact 20-25k for football and rugby and hand the GAA whatever of the remainder to do up Casement…. everyone’s happy. “[/i]

    As already pointed out by janeymac, Casement doesn’t have the room to expand to the 40k plus stadium that the GAA require.

    The bigger question for those backing a Belfast soccer and rugby only stadium is how do they treat the GAA fairly, given that they are by far the best attended sport here in NI?

    Look again at the attendence figures committed to the Maze by the three sports :-
    150000 pa committed by the GAA
    80000 pa committed by the IFA
    40000 pa committed by Ulster Rugby

    Its clear that gaelic football fans constitute the vast majority of fans that would use any new stadium in NI.

    On the basis that GAA fans pay their taxes too, there’s no way on earth that a substantively publicly funded all seater stadium could/should ever be built for soccer/rugby’s requirements without a quid pro quo for followers of NI’s best attended sport.

    Just throwing a few pennies at the bog dwellers won’t wash.

    Any hypothetical carve-up of the pie should be along lines of demonstrable need, ie using the Maze’s committment figures.

    I make that roughly 55% of the pot going to the GAA’s new stadium, 30% to the IFA and 15% to Ulster Rugby.

    Does that sound fair to everybody?

  • iluvni

    Surely the GAA would be adding an additional 38000 to their 150000, to take account of the full house each year for their annual Hunger Strike Commemmoration Rally.

  • Paul

    iluvni,

    [i]”Surely the GAA would be adding an additional 38000 to their 150000, to take account of the full house each year for [b]their[/b] annual Hunger Strike Commemmoration Rally. “[/i]

    The event you refer to was not a GAA event. It was organised by a bunch of shinners. No doubt you will remember that the GAA HQ expressly refused permission for the rally to go ahead at a GAA venue. It was the local GAA administration who ignored the GAA’s ruling.

    You’ll be pleased to know that the GAA do not organise political rallies, so they would not be using the Maze for such apurpose.
    In line with the shared space ethos of the Maze scheme, I would imagine that there would be a ban on political rallies at the new shared stadium.

    Interesting that you declined to comment on my suggestions on what constitutes a fair carve up of the Maze pot (in the hypothetical event of SF and the DUP agreeing to do such a thing).

    Rather than trying to sectarianise/obfuscate, have you any opinions on allocating funds according to demonstrable need?

    Its my opinion that unionists will never stomach such a fair distribution because the GAA would be entitled to the lions share of funding.

    To me, that’s one more reason to stick to the Maze.
    It treats all sports fairly, and accomodates all specator needs, not just those of soccer and rugby fans.

    Its conveniently located for the majority of fans who would ever go there.

    I thought the recent Ipsos MORI opinion poll was interesting because it clearly showed what I have suspected all along, namely that the anti-Maze brigade were nothing more than a vocal minority, mainly composed on NI soccer fans.

    Of those NI residents who had an opinion on any stadium’s location, more people (60%) preferred the maze to a Belfast location (40%).

  • willowfield

    Its [sic] conveniently located for the majority of fans who would ever go there.

    The location is appalling – not convenient for anyone when you have to sit in a traffic jam inching forward to get in and out of the stadium.

    I thought the recent Ipsos MORI opinion poll was interesting because it clearly showed what I have suspected all along, namely that the anti-Maze brigade were nothing more than a vocal minority, mainly composed on NI soccer fans.

    If you attach more importance to the views of the general public, most of whom will never darken the door of the stadium, than you do to the actual would-be customers of the stadium, then the Ipsos/MORI poll is useful.

    I think it is fair, however, to attach more weight to the views of football and rugby supporters than to Mr Wilson from Islandmagee whose main engagement in the stadium is likely to be watching the occasional match on tv.

  • Steve

    Willow

    It would seem to me its the general public that will be paying the bill so their opinion far outweighs the few rugby and soccer fans

  • Paul

    Willowfield,

    [i]”The location is appalling – not convenient for anyone when you have to sit in a traffic jam inching forward to get in and out of the stadium.”[/i]

    The Maze location is suitable for the vast majority of people who will ever use the stadium.

    As repeatedly stated, the majority of fans using any new shared stadium will be gaelic football fans.

    Look again at annual committed figures for the Maze;
    150k by GAA,
    80k by IFA
    40k for IRFU.

    Most of the GAA fans (150k of the 270k usage) will come from south and west Ulster, and the Maze will be far more convenient for them than Belfast.

    They won’t have to negotiate Belfast’s already congested roads, nor engage in car parking battles.
    I recall that Belfast couldn’t even cope with a couple of thousand Disney ice skating fans recently. The whole place came to gridlock.
    Just imagine 40k GAA fans coming in at once.
    There’d be chaos.

    I acknowledge that most NI soccer fans, and probably most rugby fans (but probably a lower percentage) would face a slightly longer journey than they currently face getting to Windosr or Ravenhill.

    But my guess is that we’re talking an extra half hour /40 minutes – the Maze is only 10 miles up the road.

    According to the architects, experts can see no difficulty with access to the Maze.
    There will be more than sufficient car and coach parking space available at the new stadium.

    Blaris Road will be dualled;
    There will be a new interchange on the M1 at the Maze.
    The four lane Knockmore Link will facilitate traffic coming from the north of the city.

    There would certainly be less congestion with 20k fans heading out of Belfast versus 40k trying to get in.

    Car parking at the Maze would certainly be easier than is currently the case in Belfast.

    Imho, it would have been a good idea to commission some sort of geo-spatial travel study to determine
    1. where likely users of the stadium live and
    2. how they would get there.

    My guess is that it would confirm all of the above.
    It would also illustrate that public transport is less of an issue than mooted.
    The reality in NI is that almost all trips to any new stadium would be by car, regardless of where any stadium is, because public transport is so poor.

    So in summary, I still assert that the Maze is more convenient for most of the people who will use it.
    Yes, a minority will be slighly inconvenienced, but not to the degree suggested by the howls of the anti-Maze brigade.

  • “Any hypothetical carve-up of the pie should be along lines of demonstrable need, ie using the Maze’s committment figures.

    I make that roughly 55% of the pot going to the GAA’s new stadium, 30% to the IFA and 15% to Ulster Rugby. “

    Except for one thing: demonstrable need is not the same as the Maze’s commitment figures. The IFA need a new stadium in order for Northern Ireland to continue competing in international competitions. Their need is greater than the other 2 sports.

    Also, someone mentioned above that one 38k event a year was nonsense because of “a concert” (working on the assumption we can get a big name every year, AND get 38k people to actually go to the Maze to watch it) and an Ireland rugby friendly. The IRFU committed to one autumn friendly every other year; I think the alternating years would see one played in Cork, though I don’t follow rugby so I’m not 100% sure if that Cork bit is right.

  • willowfield

    STEVE

    It would seem to me its [sic] the general public that will be paying the bill so their opinion far outweighs the few rugby and soccer fans

    The general public should therefore make sure it listens to and takes account of the views of the would-be customers of the stadium, lest it wastes its money on a white elephant.

    PAUL

    The Maze location is suitable for the vast majority of people who will ever use the stadium.

    It’s not, because the location is appalling – and not suitable for the vast majority of people using the stadium who will have to sit in a traffic jam inching forward to get in and out of the stadium.

    As repeatedly stated, the majority of fans using any new shared stadium will be gaelic football fans.

    Gaelic football fans will also have to sit in traffic jams – probably the worse jams of all, given that they are expected to have the largest attendances.

    Most of the GAA fans (150k of the 270k usage) will come from south and west Ulster, and the Maze will be far more convenient for them than Belfast.

    It won’t, because – from whatever direction they come – they will have to sit in appalling traffic jams.

    They won’t have to negotiate Belfast’s already congested roads, nor engage in car parking battles.

    No – they will have to negotiate the Maze’s inadequate roads – with all traffic attempting to enter and exit the site via the single motorway slip road.

    I recall that Belfast couldn’t even cope with a couple of thousand Disney ice skating fans recently. The whole place came to gridlock.
    Just imagine 40k GAA fans coming in at once.
    There’d be chaos.

    If you think it would be chaos in Belfast – which has a much superior infrastructure to the Maze, and which copes with thousands and thousands of cars on a daily basis – why on earth are you advocating Maze? Chaos at the Maze will be far worse.

    I acknowledge that most NI soccer fans, and probably most rugby fans (but probably a lower percentage) would face a slightly longer journey than they currently face getting to Windosr or Ravenhill.

    Everyone will face a considerably longer journey to the Maze, from wherever they come, due to the access and transport problems.

    But my guess is that we’re talking an extra half hour /40 minutes – the Maze is only 10 miles up the road.

    It will take a hell of a lot longer than “half hour / 4o minutes” to get thousands of cars into the Maze along a single road at the same time! Wise up!

    According to the architects, experts can see no difficulty with access to the Maze.

    Would these supposed “experts” have been paid to say that? They’re talking balls. Roads Service has already expressed concerns about access.

    Blaris Road will be dualled

    Says who?

    There will be a new interchange on the M1 at the Maze.

    Yes – the single slip road mentioned above!

    The four lane Knockmore Link will facilitate traffic coming from the north of the city.

    Coming from the north of the city … on to the single slip road into the stadium site!

    There would certainly be less congestion with 20k fans heading out of Belfast versus 40k trying to get in.

    40k fans getting into the Maze – with only one main access road will certainly not cause less congestion than 40k getting into Belfast via the many alternative routes available.

    And all of the above doesn’t even take into account the fact that there are minimal public transport options for Maze and ZERO options for pedestrians.

  • willowfield

    Plus of course the fact that Belfast, as a city with social amenities, attracts people to arrive early and stay after the event – thus helping to reduce congestion immediately before and after each event.

    At an isolated, rural location such as the Maze – with little or no social amenities – there is no reason for anyone to be there before or after the event.

  • Steve

    Willow

    your views seem to be contingent on the theory that Belfast is the major part of the population. While it is certainly the largest city it is not the be all and end all of nIreland

    If you don’t like the Maze put it in Derry it certainly has ammenities to attract people before and after an event

  • iluvni

    Paul…

    “The event you refer to was not a GAA event. It was organised by a bunch of shinners. No doubt you will remember that the GAA HQ expressly refused permission for the rally to go ahead at a GAA venue. It was the local GAA administration who ignored the GAA’s ruling. ”

    hmm, well the GAA head honchos didnt exactly do much to punish the Antrim GAA for ignoring the ruling. They withheld a few All-Ireland final tickets if I remember correctly. Well, that sent a message out loud and clear, didnt it?!

    “You’ll be pleased to know that the GAA do not organise political rallies, so they would not be using the Maze for such apurpose.”

    No, but they permit their star players to pose in county kit in Sinn Fein election posters. They allow their grounds to be named after terrorists…and send their top man up to do the honours on opening day.
    Are you kidding yourself or trying to kid us that the GAA wouldnt be involved in Hunger Strike commemmorations at the new site….ask Jarlath. Maybe they’d bring out a nice new shirt like last year as well.

    “In line with the shared space ethos of the Maze scheme, I would imagine that there would be a ban on political rallies at the new shared stadium. ”

    Well, I’ve asked this question off the political representatives and have yet to see a categorical assurance that this would be the way of things. I think I know why…

    “Interesting that you declined to comment on my suggestions on what constitutes a fair carve up of the Maze pot (in the hypothetical event of SF and the DUP agreeing to do such a thing).”

    I made comment the other day that before the IFA, IRFU or the GAA receives a single penny of public funding, they should be compelled to demonstrate their programmes to develop cross-community participation in their teams. I take it you’d agree with that…
    There should be no carve-up of funding though on projected attendance figures. Didnt you read the comments of Francie Brolly in the Assembly the other day? He doesnt appear too convinced the GAA figures stack up.

  • anonymous

    illuvni
    Didn’t you read the comments of Francie Brolly in the Assembly the other day? He doesnt appear too convinced the GAA figures stack up.

    Always best to provide the quote in question:

    Mr Brolly:

    I want to address Jim’s point about supporters. The supporters of all three codes are not enthusiastic about moving out of their traditional sporting venues. GAA followers are certainly not jumping up and down at the prospect of watching matches at Long Kesh.

    Mr Shannon:
    Is it as high as 97% of supporters?

    Mr Brolly:
    It is probably higher. In general, GAA supporters will question whether it is necessary. They are happy to go to Casement Park for local games, Clones —

  • janeymac

    iluvni
    “hmm, well the GAA head honchos didnt exactly do much to punish the Antrim GAA for ignoring the ruling. They withheld a few All-Ireland final tickets if I remember correctly. Well, that sent a message out loud and clear, didnt it?!”

    GAA HQ also very publicly recinded their customery invite to Sinn Fein (which all political parties get) to attend the All-Ireland final that year and which received wide news coverage on RTE – it fact it was fairly humiliating for Sinn Fein which should please you.

    Some of you here obviously don’t realise that the Ulster branch of the GAA (and Cork County Board) are generally at loggerheads with everyone else in the GAA and rarely agree on anything from pay-for-play, to the usage of Croke Park, down to the (winning) style of football played by Armagh & Tyrone. The ‘turning up of the head honchos’ as you refer to, was widely regarded as a bit of a hijacking by Sinn Fein and certainly didn’t go down well by the GAA in this neck of the woods.

  • janeymac

    Willowfield
    “At an isolated, rural location such as the Maze – with little or no social amenities – there is no reason for anyone to be there before or after the even”

    And where exactly is Clones?

    “Mr Brolly:
    It is probably higher. In general, GAA supporters will question whether it is necessary. They are happy to go to Casement Park for local games, Clones”

    According to Mr. Brolly son Joe, Ulster GAA don’t fancy pay-for-play either. Hope its not because he wants the ROI & GAA to build a suitable stadium for them.

    As always, what GAA HQ says will go and they will be very happy for anyone to build a stadium for them anywhere!

  • George

    Beano,
    Except for one thing: demonstrable need is not the same as the Maze’s commitment figures. The IFA need a new stadium in order for Northern Ireland to continue competing in international competitions. Their need is greater than the other 2 sports.

    This greater need is a result of gross incompetence, blazer greed, poor management and a host of other factors, all of which can be laid fairly and squarely at the door of the IFA.

    The idea that this incompetence should be rewarded with extra taxpayers’ money at the expense of better run and better supported organisations such as the IRFU and GAA is laughable.

    Is rewarding sloth seen as a way of life in Northern Ireland?

    It would make more sense to invest any extra cash on the likes of Derry City, junior clubs and grass roots football in general.

    At least they are deserving as well as in need of the cash.

  • ulsterfan

    George

    The much needed funds for football can be given subject to changes in the management structure of IFA.
    NI needs a new stadium in Belfast .
    Perhaps Brian Cowen will surprise us with his generosity.