IFA walks away from Maze stadium?

The IFA President Raymond Kennedy believes the Maze site is no longer an option for a new stadium and expressed his personal preference for an Ormeau Park site.

  • picador

    ggl,

    “Er, as I already told you, I’m not”

    Right so. Let me get this straight. Are arguing over a stadium you are not going to go to?

    I would go to games featuring Cliftonville, matches involving visiting foreign teams, the odd rugby match, concerts etc.

    I would also go to an upgraded Casement the odd time to see the Saffrom stick fighters lose against Free State opposition.

    And I would hope to move between the two stadii on a state of the art light-rail system.

    Like somebody mentioned God loves an optimist.

    Meanwhile Long Kesh could become a Troubles theme park for the lost children of the 70s and 80s.

  • Paul

    Picador

    [i] The GAA already has a 36,000 seat stadium in Clones?[/i]

    2 things – it has a 36k capacity stadium, a paltry 7k of which is seated.

    Again, look at a google map of Ulster – Clones is simply in the wrong location.

    [i] Why build another one in Dungannon? Surely it would make more sense to upgrade Casement which being right next to the motorway is relatively easily accessible to people and also has the advantage of being situated in the north’s major population centre. [/i]

    Casement is certainly in a more accessible location than Clones, but if you look at a google map satellite image of Owenvarragh Park, you’ll see that Casement is massively restricted by housing on three sides, and a main road on the other.

    There is no room to expand to anything close to a 40k capacity, especially if more seating were to be provided. Even disregarding the lack of space (and you can’t really), given its very poor level of facilities (2k seats in an antiquated stand), the level of investment required wouldn’t be far of that needed for a new stadium.

    If we’re forced to go it alone, it would be far better to start again and build the right stadium in the right location this time.

  • kensei

    willow

    Why have I any need to “show” that? I never said such a stadium would be more expensive.

    I thought we were talking about appropriate ways to divvy up money based on need. Or have you actually been so focused being a pedant you forgot what the discussion was about?

  • nationalists will scream discrimination.

    Lol. That’s not much of an argument. Nationalists will do that anyway. That’s what they do! They do it because it’s a day ending with a ‘y’.

  • Willowfield

    Willowfield,

    [i] That is my view. I do not believe there will be two new stadia, nor do I believe the GAA needs a new stadium, and I do believe that the GAA will accept funding to upgrade existing stadia. Those beliefs do not mean that I am not prepared to countenance two new stadia.

    > Do you actually accept that followers of NI’s
    > best attended sport have as much right to be
    > accommodated in their own substantively
    > publicly funded stadium, built to their
    > required capacity, to the same standard as
    > soccer /rugby fans?

    They have as much right to a new stadium as anyone else. Whether they have the same need for one, of course, is debatable. [/i]

    So what part of this earlier post don’t you understand?
    Surely if the GAA say that they need to invest in one new high quality 40k stadium in Ulster, then that’s what they mean?

    Are you saying that you’re better placed to know what the GAA needs than it is itself?

    With a greater insight about its affairs than the GAA itself, will you be running for GAA president next year?

    ————————–

    [i] There won’t be a two-stadium solution. The GAA doesn’t need a stadium. It will accept money to develop existing grounds. [/i]

    I hadn’t realised you were a spokesman / strategist for the GAA.
    The last time I checked, the GAA’s views were markedly different.
    The GAA are keen to develop one 40k+ higher quality stadium in each province.

    For full details read Section 8.4.3 of GAA Strategic Review report

    re GAA’s stadia requirements:

    One ‘major’ stadium should be developed in each Province with the exception of Leinster; (A ‘major’ stadium would involve a capacity of 40,000 to 60,000, of which at least two-thirds would be seated and a minimum of 35% of the seats
    would be covered.)

    The economic case for three higher quality stadia appears to be backed up by an interim report by Department of Economics University College Cork. see

    http://www.ucc.ie/academic/economics/research/workingpapers/03-01.pdf

    ————————–

  • willowfield

    I thought we were talking about appropriate ways to divvy up money based on need.

    And? When did I say a 25,000 all-seater would be more expensive than a 40,000 partial-seater?

  • willowfield

    PAUL

    Surely if the GAA say that they need to invest in one new high quality 40k stadium in Ulster, then that’s what they mean?

    What they need and what they want aren’t necessarily the same thing. In bidding documents, obviously they talk up “need” rather than “want”.

    It’s just my belief that they’ll accept funding for existing stadia. I may, of course, be wrong. Time will tell.

    I note your failure to address other points.

  • picador

    Paul,

    Again, look at a google map of Ulster – Clones is simply in the wrong location.

    I don’t need to look at a map to know that, like Knock airport, Clones is in the arse end of nowhere – I’ve been there. Everyone looks the same , even Dolly the sheep

    Casement is certainly in a more accessible location than Clones, but if you look at a google map satellite image of Owenvarragh Park, you’ll see that Casement is massively restricted by housing on three sides, and a main road on the other.

    Buy up the housing and build over it.

    Even disregarding the lack of space (and you can’t really), given its very poor level of facilities (2k seats in an antiquated stand), the level of investment required wouldn’t be far of that needed for a new stadium.

    Agree on a site other than the Maze with BCC / IFA / IRFU. Why is the Maze sacrosanct from a sporting point of view? Why wasn’t Croke Park built at The Curragh?

    If we’re forced to go it alone, it would be far better to start again and build the right stadium in the right location this time.

    And you reckon it’s Dungannon? Just like once upon a time someone (someone from Clones perhaps) reckoned it was Clones. I guess you would be a Tyrone man.

  • Peat Blog

    I think the new stadium should be on top of May Street Presbyterian Church.

  • Paul

    Willowfield,

    do you think a 25k all-seater would be more expensive than a 40k fully covered, 30k-seated stadium?

    Have you any rough idea even?

    If it were to transpire that

    1. the GAA is actually the best attended sport in NI

    2. the GAA, as per their own report, actually does have a need for a new stadium in NI

    3. the cost of a 40k fully covered, 30k-seated stadium PLUS the cost of 25k fully seated is substantially more than the original Maze budget

    4. the UK govt do make the same original Maze funding available

    5. the govt funding doesn’t cover the full costs of both stadii

    6. political agreement was made to cover the same percentage capital costs of both stadii, eg both get 70% funding

    would you be happy?

  • willowfield

    As long as we got our stadium, built, yeah, of course I’d be happy.

    I continue note your ongoing failure to address previous points that I made in relation to access.

  • Paul

    Picador,

    [i]

    Casement is certainly in a more accessible location than Clones, but if you look at a google map satellite image of Owenvarragh Park, you’ll see that Casement is massively restricted by housing on three sides, and a main road on the other.

    Buy up the housing and build over it.
    [/i]

    Yeah right, buy up about 60 houses at an average of just under 300k each.
    There’s 15 to 17 Million down the swanny, before you’ve laid a brick.

    Plus, the planners would never allow the loss of family units anyway.

    [i]
    If we’re forced to go it alone, it would be far better to start again and build the right stadium in the right location this time.

    And you reckon it’s Dungannon? Just like once upon a time someone (someone from Clones perhaps) reckoned it was Clones. I guess you would be a Tyrone man.
    [/i]

    Irrefutably Dungannon – as I say get you google / aa /rac journey planner out and try to find a more accessible location for all nine counties.
    I’m not ashamed to say I did it, and Dungannon is less than two hours from everywhere in Ulster.
    And nope, I’m a Down man as it happens. Delighted to be after our rare win on Saturday.

  • picador

    I would also like to add that I think that from a cultural point of view the city of Belfast needs the GAA. The GAA withdrew – for perhaps understandable reasons – from the city for the best part of thirty years leaving a void behind it. Many people stayed who stayed loyal to the association paid a heavy price for it when. Meanwhile all the big matches were taking place down in Clones. The GAA should have the vision and self-confidence to come back to the city where Irish music and language are thriving.

  • Paul

    Willowfield,

    what points about access?
    Can you list them?

    I thought they’d been addressed by the Maze architect’s response on the matter.
    You chose to reject their experts’ professional opinions just because they were the maze architects.

  • Paul

    willowfield,

    [i]
    > Surely if the GAA say that they need to invest > in one new high quality 40k stadium in Ulster, > then that’s what they mean?

    What they need and what they want aren’t necessarily the same thing. In bidding documents, obviously they talk up “need” rather than “want”.

    It’s just my belief that they’ll accept funding for existing stadia. I may, of course, be wrong. Time will tell. [i]

    The GAA strategic review document is far from a bidding document as you describe it. It is an internal strategy document, designed to set GAA strategy and direction for several years. I think it was formulated well before detailed plans for the Maze were mooted, but its contents did influence the GAA requesting a higher capacity 35k/42k stadium.

    If you read it, you will see that the context for the new stadium provision is that the GAA themselves pay for it, thus the economic review from UCC.
    Thats why the GAA were so supportive of the Maze – it delivered what its previous strategy report recommended, at minimal cost to the GAA itself.

    Oh and btw, there are no home and away matches in the Ulster Championship.
    I’ll no longer be proposing your nomination for GAA president.

  • willowfield

    PAUL

    “what points about access? Can you list them?”

    Read my contributions at 3.42pm and 3.50pm.

    “I thought they’d been addressed by the Maze architect’s response on the matter.
    You chose to reject their experts’ professional opinions just because they were the maze architects.”

    Wise up. The opinions of those with a vested interest in “bigging up” something are not objective.

    “The GAA strategic review document is far from a bidding document as you describe it. It is an internal strategy document, designed to set GAA strategy and direction for several years.”

    LOL! Yeah, and of course when it was written, it didn’t cross their minds that it would also serve as a bidding document … you know when they submit all those applications, citing the “need” demonstrated in the business plan (appended)!

    If you read it, you will see that the context for the new stadium provision is that the GAA themselves pay for it, thus the economic review from UCC.

    Go ahead, then.

    Oh and btw, there are no home and away matches in the Ulster Championship.

    That’s ridiculous. So where are the matches played?

  • picador

    I’m not ashamed to say I did it, and Dungannon is less than two hours from everywhere in Ulster.

    And of course travel time is important cos no f***er in their right mind is going to make a weekend of it in Dungannon. When the games over they’ll jump back in their cars and head right back where they came from. How does that enrich wider society?

    Yeah right, buy up about 60 houses at an average of just under 300k each. There’s 15 to 17 Million down the swanny, before you’ve laid a brick.

    They wouldn’t have to buy the housing on all three sides. And as I’m sure you’re aware house prices aren’t what they were.

    But why not agree on a common site in Belfast with the other parties. After all they were able to agree to sharing in principle. Why would Ormeau Park be a problem? It’s potentially 10 minutes from the city centre.

  • picador

    bloody italics!

  • Paul

    Picador,

    agreed that the GAA needs to make much effort to evangelise gaelic games in Belfast. More clubs, greater involvement, and a much greater promotion of the county team.

    Casement should ideally be improved, on a par with Omagh or Newry, say 20k capacity. The emphasis should be on quality of accommodation, not maximising capacity.

    That shouldn’t be confused with locating the main 40k provincial ground there however.
    There’s no good whinging about Clones being the wrong location for the whole of Ulster, if we then pick Belfast as an alternative.
    People of south Donegal would be peeved.

    As already stated, Dungannon is the ideal location for the GAA’s new 40k stadium.
    Some Ulster Council official recently backed this up, saying that Coalisland was the most central spot for the whole of Ulster.

  • Paul

    PICADOR,

    [i]Why would Ormeau Park be a problem? It’s potentially 10 minutes from the city centre. [/i]

    Its a much further drive and far less convenient for most GAA fans (ie the majority who would ever use the stadium). My guess is that the extra distance and more difficult parking would add 40 to 50 minutes to the journey compared to the Maze.

    Parking would be a nightmare. It already is, without bringing in 40k people, most coming from the same direction.

    As already stated to Willowfield, it doesn’t matter how good Belfast’s pedestrian links are, nor how many multi modal public transport nodes exist if you can’t walk from Fermanagh, and there’s no train station in Tyrone.

    The anti-Maze brigade used to harp on about no public transport to bring 20k the 11 miles from Belfast.

    I never believed the guff they came out with, but to be consistent, they’d have to explain how 40k could be brought to Belfast by public transport.
    Are there enough coaches and coach parking facilities to ferry 40k?

    WILLOWFIELD

    I’ve no reason to disbelieve the architects’ statements on travel provision.
    It would border on professional negligence if they were to try and get planning approval without addressing travel provision, and specifically the required traffic capacity needed.

  • Michael Robinson

    Picador wrote: What is the IRFU/UB position? Are they still committed to the Maze? What is the situation with Ravenhill? Will it continue to be viable? What is the current capacity? State of the ground?

    Latest information (Febuary) from Ulster Rugby is here: http://www.ulsterrugby.com/11_6448.php

    Basically, the Maze is the only option on the table, but if a stadium was available in Belfast, they would play at it.

    There is planned redevelopment at Ravenhill that will REDUCE capacity from around 13k to 11k by replacing some terracing with corporate boxes. However this will increase revenue because of the higher value of the corporate seats – so it is short term financial expediency and isn’t a solution that will provide further growth.

    I understand that it is highly unlikely that Ravenhill capacity could be increased, or the ground sold for development because of planning/zoning restrictions.

    So Ulster can survive at Ravenhill… but certainly not thrive, and the reality is probably ongoing decline as the vast majority of Ulster’s Magners League and European rivals have plans, or already have, larger and more modern grounds than Ravenhill and as a result can generate a lot more money.

  • flycatcher

    It is pitiful that NI soccer fans are pleading for tens of millions from the public purse for a new stadium built at our expense-bloody beggars, the lot of them.
    Let their FA go to the private sector to try to secure the revenue for this white elephant.
    Given their incompetency, they’re likely to attract less revenue than a Pink News seller outside Iris Robinson’s gaff.

  • picador

    Paul,

    “That shouldn’t be confused with locating the main 40k provincial ground there however.
    There’s no good whinging about Clones being the wrong location for the whole of Ulster, if we then pick Belfast as an alternative. People of south Donegal would be peeved.”

    Would you be comparing Greater Clones with a population of 2,000 to Greater Belfast with a population of 579,554?

    By your bizarre logic Croke Park would be in Athlone. And the people of Dingle would be playing gridiron.

    “If we’re forced to go it alone, it would be far better to start again and build the right stadium in the right location this time.”

    Yeah right! Book me Ulster Final weekend in Coalisland. What are the hotels like up there? Cinemas? Restaurants? Nightlife?

    “Some Ulster Council official recently backed this up, saying that Coalisland was the most central spot for the whole of Ulster.”

    Would he be a steak and chips kind of guy? Or more chicken in a basket? In any case he sounds even more sophisticated than the guy who picked Clones.

    I suppose that culchies will always follow GAA but if the GAA want to reach a wider audience they will need to think beyond the parish pump. 579,554 is a hell of a lot of people.

  • It is pitiful that NI soccer fans are pleading for tens of millions from the public purse for a new stadium built at our expense-bloody beggars, the lot of them.

    It’s actually a process called “lobbying” and any political, cultural and sporting group is entitled to try it- just happens that certain groups play the game more intelligently than others and so end up getting what they want.

  • picador

    BTW the attendances at matches involving Ulster teams at Croke Park totally contradict your assertions about people being unwilling to travel a bit further or look for parking in cities.

  • flycatcher

    ‘It’s actually a process called “lobbying” and any political, cultural and sporting group is entitled to try it- just happens that certain groups play the game more intelligently than others and so end up getting what they want.’

    Yeah, the IFA have played the game that intelligently that they’re likely to have to play their ‘home’ games somewhere in Britain.

    They’ve lost the prospect of a new stadium outside Lisburn whilst chasing the pipedream of an Ormeau stadium and even managed to alienate the owners of their current shack at Windsor-Smart stuff indeed – Big Issue, anyone,for the Norn Iron beggars?

  • Peat Blog

    Ormeau Park is a non-runner. Firstly, it won’t wash with the local residents and, secondly, it won’t wash with the planners.

  • Paul

    PICADOR,

    I genuinely don’t get what you’re on about.

    I’m certainly not advocating Clones as the location of any new 40k high quality stadium.

    On the contrary, in my replies to you, I was suggesting that the GAA’s ideal location for any new 40k Ulster stadium would be somewhere around Dungannon.

    This would be on the basis of what I would term geography, the Dungannon area being equally accessible to all parts of Ulster – under two hours away for everybody from Bundoran to Ballycastle, Dunfanaghy to Newry.

    Given that this one stadium would host all of Ulster’s big games, it would entirely reasonable to locate it in as central, in as equally accessible location as possible.

    Dungannon, under two hours drive for everybody, would be as equally accessible to the 579,554 who live in Greater Belfast, as to the 1,397,479 in Ulster who don’t.

    Quite simply really.

    I really don’t see what the demography or characteristics of any location’s hinterland has got to with anything.
    Most gaelic football fans I know go to watch a match in a daylight hours trip, and choose other times to go to cinemas and partake in nightlife.

    I don’t know if you’re familiar with parts of Ulster outside Belfast, but you’ll find that only Derry would scrape close to offering decent cinemas, restaurants and nightlife to make a weekend stay worthwhile.

    The problem with both Derry and Belfast is that they’re not ideally located for GAA fans across the whole of Ulster.
    I’d guess that Newry to Derry on a match day would be close to two and a half/three hours.
    Dunfanaghy to Belfast would definately be more than three hours.

    It would be a bit daft if the GAA were to locate a new stadium based on criteria such as cinemas, restaurants, nightlife, weekend stays, etc, and ignore journey times of most fans who just want to watch a match.

  • Paul

    PICADOR,

    [i] BTW the attendances at matches involving Ulster teams at Croke Park totally contradict your assertions about people being unwilling to travel a bit further or look for parking in cities. [/i]

    Unlike the anti-Maze bridage, GAA fans are well versed in travelling big distances to support their teams. Just look at the crowds that make the epic trek to Clones ffs.

    But if you look closely at the 2005 attendance stats, you’ll see that they actually underline the importance of travel times.

    You will note that the first Armagh-v-Tyrone Ulster Final, held at Croker on a Sunday, attracted a 60k plus crowd. The replay, held the following Saturday at the same venue attracted a mere 32k. The most common reason given by those who attended the first match, but not the second was that they didn’t have the time to make travel arrangements / couldn’t justify taking another full day off, etc. If the replay had been at the Maze, you’d undoubtedly have had a bigger crowd at the replay.

    Additionally, the match would most probably have been rescheduled to be an evening match, drawing bigger crowds. The evening option isn’t open if you have to factor in long journeys home.

  • Paul

    PICADOR,

    re city centre parking – have you been following developments with Dublin City Council recently imposing a 2km parking restriction zone around Croker?

    http://www.independent.ie/sport/gaelic-football/exclusion-zone-to-leave-fans-with-2km–match-hike-1350749.html?startindex=-1#comments

    Many people questioning why the GAA should ever have given Croker to Dublin, when it gives so much and gets fa back in return. On that basis, maybe the GAA would have been smarter to go to Athlone. It would certainly have bigger crowds when Kerry and other western teams play.

    If they tried the same parking thing in Belfast, a huge swathe would have matchday parking banned. A rough area would be a circle from the City hospital to the M3 Bridge, across to Connswater, down to Forestside, and back up to the City hoispital. Food for thought. Just where are those cars belonging to 40k GAA fans going to go?

  • Yeah, the IFA have played the game that intelligently that they’re likely to have to play their ‘home’ games somewhere in Britain.

    Flycatcher,

    You haven’t being paying attention- it wasn’t the IFA who were anti-Maze.

    Now do some research and get back to me with a sensible comment

  • willowfield

    If there are no home and away matches in GAA, why does each county have a home ground?

  • Billy

    Chekov

    “nationalists will scream discrimination.

    Lol. That’s not much of an argument. Nationalists will do that anyway. That’s what they do! They do it because it’s a day ending with a ‘y’”

    What an enlightened, non-prejudiced attitude to Nationalists i.e. Catholics you have!

    It’s hardly surprising that very few Catholics support “Norn Iron” if you’re typical of an “open-minded”, non-sectarian Norn Iron supporter.

    Football for all – what a joke!

  • Paul

    Willowfield,

    [i]If there are no home and away matches in GAA, why does each county have a home ground? [/i]

    I’ll explain properly this time.
    The Ulster Championship isn’t played on a home and away leg basis – its a knockout cup competition.

    Down didn’t have a home championship match in the year I supplied figures for.
    Their Ulster Championship match was away at tyrone.

    They were beaten, and that ended their involvement in the Ulster Championship.

    It did not end their involvement in the AI Championship however – they entered what is known as the Qualifiers, in which losing teams play in a parallel knock-out competition.
    The winning provinicial teams eventually meet the Qualifier winning teams in the AI Quarter Finals.

    You will note that I didn’t include the qualifier attendences in the figures – I couldn’t find them anywhere.

    Hopefully that answers your question about why Down home games didn’t appear in the attendence figures I gave.

    A fuller explanation on the AI format is given here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/All-Ireland_Senior_Football_Championship

  • George

    “Many people questioning why the GAA should ever have given Croker to Dublin, when it gives so much and gets fa back in return”

    Apart from the 80,000+ Dubs who fill it for every game that involves them and all the Dublin taxpayers’ money that helped pay for a good percentage of the stadium’s construction.

    Then there’s the fact that the GAA gets one third of all money given to sport in the Irish Republic and believe it or not Dubs pay tax too. So get off your high horse before someone from the Clonliffe road yanks you off it.

    You may have a problem with walking to the stadium, but those who live near it have a problem with not being able to get near their home on all those matchdays.

    The problem is not the ban on parking, the problem is the lack of a proper public transport infrastructure. Come 2015 you might have a Metro stop if you’re lucky.

  • flycatcher

    O’Neill as you well know, the IFA paid only lip
    ‘You haven’t being paying attention- it wasn’t the IFA who were anti-Maze.’

    O’Neill, as you well know the IFA paid only lip-service to the Maze project as demonstrated by the IFA President Billy Kennedy revealing that he actually wants an Ormeau stadium.
    Kennedy’s populism plays well with the fans who can’t see that he has abdicated his responsibilty for pragmatic leadership.

    Now stop begging and come back to me with an intelligent comment

  • Paul

    GEORGE,

    yes, if Croker had been located further west, then Dublin crowds would be smaller, but Cork,Kerry, Limerick, Mayo, Galway, etc attendances would be bigger.

    I fail to see what relevance public funding of the GAA has to stadium location. Nor the undisputed fact that 1.6M Dubliners pay tax, as do the 4.4M non-Dubliners.

    Given the GAA’s leading role in Irish society, I can’t see any objections to the level of funding it gets. From the ESRI report on Social and Econominc value of Sport in Ireland:

    “sports policy in Ireland should recognise and support the social aspects of sport, taking account of the social bonding, community involvement and general contribution to the effective functioning of society that they provide.

    Funding for sport should be shaped with a view to supporting the social as well as the physical benefits of sport, particularly by encouraging the development of community-based models of sports organisation; sustaining or increasing the numbers who volunteer for sport; enhancing the volunteer experience; promoting social membership as well as playing membership of sports clubs; and facilitating attendance at sports events, for example with funding for sports stadiums and club facilities.”

    The report highlights the unique contribution of the GAA as one the “great generators of social capital in Ireland”. With its large share of volunteering, memberships in sports clubs and attendance at sporting events, the GAA, is a model of what the voluntary, community-based sports organisation can contribute to society.

    For most people going to Croker the problem is the ban on parking BEFORE any public transport alternatives have been provided. Croker generates so much money for Dublin, that at a very minimum, DCC should be providing large scale park and ride schemes, and match day bus lane prioritisation to ease congestion for fans and residents alike.

  • Democratic

    I think to sum the argument – Paul puts forward a good case for the Maze or somewhere in Dungannon being a good position for the GAA – he also points out that the GAA will be the largest users at any one time in most case scenarios. I don’t think anyone would dispute any of that. However the NI fans have exactly as much interest in doing whats best and most convienient for the GAA as vice versa and the fact that the NI fans are a smaller number makes no difference to the principle – the Maze is not for us and we will fight our own corner and our own interests where no-one else will – like another poster stated before its called lobbying and the NI fans have every right – my hope is that the DUP twisted Mr Brown’s arm the other week on this issue while they had a chance – probably more important things on the agenda overall but time will tell….

  • CW

    Slightly off topic, but while we’re on the subject of GAA did anyone see the Tyrone-Down replay at the weekend? I ask because I didn’t see it myself – none of the pubs in London were showing it. I’m a Tyrone supporter myself, but fair play to Down. They probably deserved it. Over at the BBC GAA blog I see some Tyrone supporters are calling for Mickey to go. A bit harsh, I think. They should do ok in the qualifiers, but can’t see them going too far this year.

  • “It’s hardly surprising that very few Catholics support “Norn Iron” if you’re typical of an “open-minded”, non-sectarian Norn Iron supporter.

    Football for all – what a joke!”

    I was taking the piss Billy. And I think you’ll find that you’re the joke with your Walter Mitty fantasies and your obsessional hatred for the Northern Ireland football team.

  • al

    Seen very little mention of another not-so-minor component in the success of a stadium. Namely the visiting spectators. Picture the other “national” sports stadia in the UK and Ireland at present. We have the Millennium Stadium in Wales…slap bang in the middle of Cardiff. We have Wembley in London and close, obviously, to all manner of amenities and transport links. Murrayfield in Edinburgh – on the Airport side of town. And about 15-20 mins walk from Princes Street in the middle of the city or a 5 minute bus journey down the Glasgow Road on any number of companies routes.

    Now say you were English, Scottish or Welsh and were visiting to see the rugby or football. (I assume its less likely people from the rest of the UK are going to be coming to see GAA) You jump on the closest EasyJet or FlyBe plane or, if you’re so inclined, board the ferry from Stranraer or whatever. You arrive in the City Airport or the Docks, or the International to find you are nowhere near the new stadium (assuming they build it at the Maze). You find there is no rail link from your arrival location to the stadium. You find even from the City Centre there is no rail link. It’s unlikely to be easy to find or access direct bus transport and as you likely have no car with you the motorway doesn’t really have much interest or use.

    Furthermore consider that a lot of Ulster Rugby or NI football matches are held against more “international” opposition particularly from the rest of Europe. All of those supporters would be arriving on planes to the City or International. It’s common sense to have a stadium somewhere close to both of these places with good public transport links. Yes the numbers are smaller but important nonetheless.

    We then move on to the subject of amenities. Imagine your delight at arriving at the Maze to find a stadium, car parks and shit all else. No restaurants, no shops, no bars, not even a general population centre with stuff like hotels and to sleep in (if you’ve come from a far). Guess what’ll happen after the first visit for any of these people. They’ll believe it to be a bad joke with no entertainment or reason for a 2nd or 3rd visit at some point in the future. The place would get a reputation for being crap. Now some people will suggest that these amenities will be built. Good luck operating a business that would get people coming to it sporadically rather than in a city based location where you get more local trade and the foreign visitors are an added bonus x number of days of the year when games are held.

    Lets now return to the local spectators. If football and rugby are in the stadium then the majority of their spectators are likely to be from Antrim, Down, Belfast as is currently the case. Would I follow Ulster or NI to the Maze? Doubt it. Whats the point? A lot of the games are held in the evening. Why drive down the motorway to some stadium in the middle of nowhere without even something as simple as a restaurant or chippy near by?

    Then we look at the stadium itself. We have incompatible sports with different ideas and requirements trying to get squeezed into one shoddy compromise. GAA need/want a bigger capacity stadium and need a bigger playing area too i believe. Football and Rugby need/want a somewhat smaller capacity and a different dimension of pitch. If building at the Maze, for all 3 sports, you need to cater to the needs of GAA to make it workable from their point of view. a 40,000 seater stadium with massive pitch would still “work” for football and rugby but just not as well. A smaller stadium with smaller pitch is useless for GAA so the venture fails in that regard.

    So what are the options? It seems clear from a technical and logistical standpoint that the Maze is just a silly exercise dreamt up by politicians for mainly political means.

    Having 2 stadiums built for football/rugby and GAA would probably work better overall but is the money available for that? I dunno but I seriously doubt it.

    Having a more city based large stadium able to accomodate all the sports would be another somewhat shoddy compromise (see the technical reasons above) but would be measurably more sensible than sticking it in the countryside somewhere.

    Having no stadiums at all prolongs the untenable status quo for all concerned.

    Just my rather long 2p

  • willowfield

    Paul

    The Ulster Championship isn’t played on a home and away leg basis – its a knockout cup competition.

    Knock-out cup competitions aren’t necessarily two-legged! You normally still play home or away matches in knock-out cup competitions!

    Down didn’t have a home championship match in the year I supplied figures for. Their Ulster Championship match was away at tyrone.

    Ah, so Tyrone were at home and Down were away – therefore there are home and away matches after all!

    They were beaten, and that ended their involvement in the Ulster Championship. It did not end their involvement in the AI Championship however – they entered what is known as the Qualifiers, in which losing teams play in a parallel knock-out competition. The winning provinicial teams eventually meet the Qualifier winning teams in the AI Quarter Finals.

    So we don’t know what Down’s average attendances was – nor indeed do we know any county’s average attendance because we only have figures for one competition out of three?

  • gram

    al

    All fair comments. I take you up on the capacity thing though. Surely the the IFA and Ulster branch should be looking to increase their customer base. Can they do this with a capacity of 20-25K?

    As a GAA supporter I’d prefer a shared city centre location. It’s just that the options (Ormeau etc) on the table are a joke. I laugh at the pro belfast lobby who’ll try to justify any location near the City centre.

  • al

    gram

    I agree they should. But 40,000 seems a bit too far to stretch. OK, for the very biggest games you might fill that but more realistically rugby and football would be usually aiming in the 20-25,000 range. From their point of view I suspect they’d rather be playing to a “fuller house” in a more compact stadium (compact in terms of pitch size) than in a half empty large stadium with no atmosphere. Like I said it comes back to the somewhat incompatible wishes of the different sports.

    Personally I’d prefer a location in Belfast too…it’s just the logical and reasonable place to put it. Which would be best I have no idea. I’d prefer someone to knock down the Oval and build it there right next to the airport, train line and not too far out from the city centre either. But you get issues with the locals, whether the sydenham by-pass would cope with the cars, the fact glentoran are there, it’s not really a “mixed” area etc etc. It’s also a selfish preference from me being in Bangor 😛

  • Willowfield

    Willowfield,

    look at the complex diagram on the AI Championship wikipedia link I gave you. If you can understand that, you’ll be back in the running for GAA president.

    And yep, as I made clear earlier, I don’t have stats on AI Qualifier rounds, National League games, AI Club Championhsips, McKenna Cup games, Compromise rules, East Down Under 14 reserve league, or anything else.

    I don’t what your pretext was when asking for GAA attendence figures, but I was happy to provide the ones I could easily find. I thought they highlighted the degree to which gaelic football is the best attended sport within NI.

    Of course, we could already have gauged that from the 150k/80k/40k Maze commitment figures made by GAA/IFA/IRFU.

    If you want any more stats, you could always email the Ulster GAA, or go on a google fishing expedition.

  • janeymac

    Al
    International rugby would be the only big ‘sporting tourist’ attraction that would require an airport. And for that, you would need a stadium of 30K+ at least. Those games are going to remain in Dublin.

    In club rugby, the highest gates of opposition fans would come from the interprovincials who would more than likely use cars/buses for transport. Ulster Rugby (as an Irish team) is never in the same pool as any other Irish team for European Cup games. French/English/non-Irish Celtic League team supporters don’t travel in numbers anything like the Irish provincial club supporters do. You may have noticed recently that London didn’t attract a lot of Toulouse supporters for their semi-final with London Irish in the H Cup, while Munster had 30K in Coventry – and that stadium is in the middle of no-where on a aroundabout!

    With a few mid-week games for Football, it is highly unlikely that NI will draw any extra supporters – so in short, I wouldn’t be building your stadium in a city in the hope of attracting sporting tourists.

    Probably the best stadium I have been in is the Millenium in Cardiff, not because its in the middle of a city, but rather it is well designed, excellent seating and closing the roof gives a great atmosphere. Cardiff itself holds no attractions – its a bit neglected and probably a little too small for such concentrated crowds after the games – most people I know, if they don’t just do a day return, stay in Bristol and just travel to Cardiff for the day.

    Lansdowne Road is excellent – although its not exactly city centre, its big enough to absorb the crowd and its also got the DART to move the crowds out fairly quickly.

    I don’t think it is an automatic ‘city centre good’, ‘out of town bad’ – and all depending on how close you are to an airport!

  • Dewi

    Cardiff itself holds no attractions – its a bit neglected and probably a little too small for such concentrated crowds after the games

    You are having a laugh

    Serously the best thing about the Millenium is how quickly the stadium is evacuated – astonishing when compared to the old days.

    Perhaps you are right about City Centre but plenty of Pubs / restaurants within walking distance.

  • al

    janeymac

    I didnt want to make the impression that we need to also cater for thousands of visiting fans. I agree that the numbers are likely to be small but my point was they should be considered in the whole decision making process. Something I havent heard any of our politicians talking about and not much mention here either.

    As for internationals. I suspect you would get some Irish internationals, friendlies or warm up games for big competitions. Of course the main games will be held down south where the biggest stadiums are already located.

    Yet another option is to look at one of those dual stadium efforts where you can alter the pitch, seating to suit the event. Lot more expensive I expect but even if it isn’t I suspect it’s too sensible an idea for decision makers here to grasp or even look at. Or it might be a total non-starter.

    As i’ve said I think its too much of a fiddling exercise to try and get all 3 sports in one stadium and at the Maze. I just can’t see it happening. You’re then looking at a 2 stadium approach and there might not be the money. Then you’re looking at football and rugby shacking up and that would almost certainly only work with some like a 25,000 seater somewhere in Belfast. As for GAA in that circumstance…I dunno. That would be yet another argument.

  • Flycatcher,

    O’Neill, as you well know the IFA paid only lip-service to the Maze project as demonstrated by the IFA President Billy Kennedy revealing that he actually wants an Ormeau stadium.

    Billy Kennedy, being a big Blueman, will probably want Windsor revamped rather than a new stadium at Ormeau…but Raymond Kennedy is the IFA President, not Billy and until this week he has not expressed a pro-Belfast opinion -I did tell you to do some research on the subject before embarrassing yourself further but you’ve clearly paid no heed. Regarding the IFA only paying “lip-service to the Maze”-go away and check some of Howard Wells pronouncements on the matter over the last three years, if there’s a subliminal “Raze the Maze” message there, it’s been a pretty hidden one.

    Kennedy’s populism plays well with the fans who can’t see that he has abdicated his responsibilty(sic) for pragmatic leadership.

    Definition of “pragmatic”:
    “Dealing or concerned with facts or actual occurrences; practical”.
    So, here, I agree with you, he and the IFA (for once) have shown pragmatic leadership.

    Now stop begging and come back to me with an intelligent comment.

    I and other NI fans won’t have to “beg” on this one, the hard job getting the Maze dumped has already been accomplished; either a new Belfast stadium or a revamped Windsor in contrast is going to be a piece of cake, handed to us on a plate you might say.

    But if it makes you feel any better, everytime you calculate how much tax (presuming you do work and are not a er…”begger” yourself) you personally have contributed towards our new (or revamped) home, you may think of it as a charitable contribution (albeit one you will have no choice over), helping out those less fortunate than yourselves.
    And rest assured, I and other NI fans will be eternally grateful for your kind charity…

  • BasilBrush

    The IFA is only doing what most NI fans have wanted for a long time.As a rugby fan I think we should just redevelop Ravenhill.As it is highly unlikely that Ulster would attract any more than 15000 fans.Sure we wont get anymore Ireland internationals in Belfast but then there has only been the one in the last 50 years.

  • East Belfast

    Today the Irish News is carrying the story of Glentoran’s upcoming game against Celtic on 23rd of July. This is the first time in 20 years that Celtic have played in NI. It’s a proper potential cross-community event and it’s great news.

    It takes us back to the first post on this thread. We need a way to let the private sector build better stadia for our top teams. If you had an all-Ireland premiership of 12 teams or fewer, with some security of position for the top 2-4 in each regional championship/association and the prospect of better TV revenue and travelling crowd receipts you would see better stadia built naturally and without taxpayer money.

    In particular a 20-30K seater Oval replacement shouldn’t be beyond imagination.

    That said 12 teams in Ireland still spreads the jam thin. In a country of 6M it’s the equivalent of the top 102 teams in the 51M England.

    So to get good grounds you need ground sharing – a leading club in each province needs to look for a ground share with the provincial rugby side as is commonplace in England and Wales.

    A rebuilt Oval in a ground share with Ulster Rugby would suit me just dandy thanks.

    If a ground gets built in the west of, or just west of, Belfast it needs to be home to a premiership Football club.

  • flycatcher

    Oh dear, 0’Neill-the last refuge of the man with a losing argument-correcting spelling mistakes on a blog-how sad.

    As for your pedantry concerning the first name of the IFA President, Mr. Kennedy, it matters little whether this is Billy, Raymond or indeed John F.
    However if this occupies your day rather than addressing the points made, then good for you.

    The fact remains that whilst you extol the ‘intelligent lobbying’ of the IFA leadership, you conveniently ignore the small matter of the IFA President and Chief Executive holding entirely opposite views at to their preferred location of a new stadium. That ‘intelligent lobbying’ and consistency of approach will really impress the decision-makers, eh?

    Also there is no logical justification for spending vast amounts of money on a new soccer stadium here, given the pathetic crowds attracted for domestic games. NI soccer crowds for international games have ranged between 7,000 and 14,000 over the last decade or so (possibly a very occasional 20,000 in a new home?) This does not equate to a convincing argument for the expenditure involved with building a new stadium.
    Rather the IFA will have to continue to hold out the begging bowl out in the hope that cynical political expediency will win the day -Now stick that in your Spellcheck and smoke it…

  • picador

    Sport A

    The Field of Play shall be rectangular, and its dimensions shall be as follows:
    Length – 130m minimum and 145m maximum
    Width – 80m minimum and 90m maximum

    Sport B
    The length of a pitch must be between 100 yards (90m) and 130 yards (120m) and the width not less than 50 yards (45m) and not more than 100 yards (90m).

    Sport C
    The field of play: The area that is in the centre of the ground is the field of play, which measures no more than 100 metres long by no more than 70 metres wide. The in-goal areas: At each end of the playing area are the in-goal areas, which must be between 10 and 22 metres in length and 70 metres in width.

    So which sport is which? And are the requirements really so different?

  • The fact remains that whilst you extol the ‘intelligent lobbying’ of the IFA leadership, you conveniently ignore the small matter of the IFA President and Chief Executive holding entirely opposite views at to their preferred location of a new stadium.

    Flycatcher,

    Look back at my very first post on this thread. Did I say it had been the IFA who were lobbying for the Maze?

    If even that very simple point flew over your head, I fear there’s not much point wasting any more time chewing the cud with you here.

  • Look back at my very first post on this thread. Did I say it had been the IFA who were lobbying for the Maze?

    In the excitement of a German victory, I’ve mucked that one up, should read it as:

    Look back at my very first post on this thread. Did I say it had been the IFA who had been doing the “intelligent” lobbying?

    Have fun.

  • flycatcher

    ‘In the excitement of a German victory, I’ve mucked that one up,

    Oh dear, O’Neill-even a keyboard genius like you can make mistakes-my,my..

    Regarding your apparent bewilderment
    over the origins of your ‘intelligent lobbying’ quote, I would refer you to post 24 on Page 5.

    As for now, I would suggest you hit the hay with a copy of the OED to snuggle up to.

    Nite Nite.-Shit!! I meant night-night, of course.

  • janeymac

    Dewi
    “You are having a laugh

    Serously the best thing about the Millenium is how quickly the stadium is evacuated – astonishing when compared to the old days.”

    I don’t mean to offend, but in comparison to London, Rome, Paris or Dublin (even Edinburgh), Cardiff, just doesn’t compare.

    Quick enought getting out of the stadium after the game but really not up to coping with 60,000 Munster Supporters looking for a drink after winning the HCup and incredible long Qs for the train. As for Cardiff airport – 4 hour queue to get through security! Fair play to the Munster team, not only do they give their all on the pitch, they serenade us for an hour or so in the aiport. I particularly enjoyed Declan Kidney’s rendition of “I did it my way”.

  • Concerned Loyalist

    Well done Raymond Kennedy on coming out and saying what the fans have been saying for years – Ormeau Park or one of the other Belfast sites, such as the Danny Blanchflower pitches, are the only viable options.

    The Green And White Army, officially the best fans in Europe, don’t want our international football team playing at a stadium which has been built for purely political means. We refuse to give succour to a site which, at it’s core, would have a sickening shrine which glorifies sectarian Republican terrorism…

    NO MAZE FOR THE GREEN AND WHITE ARMY!!!

  • circles

    Good lad, CL.

    It’s great when the mask slips-literally in your case?

  • oneill

    Regarding your apparent bewilderment
    over the origins of your ‘intelligent lobbying’ quote, I would refer you to post 24 on Page 5.

    Any mention of the IFA in that quote?

    Who do you think I was referring to when I spoke of “intelligent lobbying”?

  • Paul

    PICADOR,

    the difference in pitch size is oft mooted by those who wouldn’t have a gaelic footballer about the place.
    In reality, its not a major issue.

    It looks from the Maze architect’s drawings made available that there is some sort of arrangement for at least one (if not two) moveable stands behind the goals, to reduce the viewing distance to the pitch.

    The touchline distance would be the same as a gaelic pitch, ie closer than if an athletic track were incorporated, as can be witnessed in some of the stadii used in the current European Championships.

    See http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/local-national/article3502885.ece?service=popup&index=0

    There’s no doubt that this feature, essentially a luxury to appease NI soccer fans, would add to the Maze expense.
    But it wouldn’t be anywhere near as expensive as the two stadium solution that effectively achieves the same thing.

    AL,

    Firstly, your concerns about Maze capacity.
    With the Maze, NI soccer gets the added benefit of a dual capacity stadium 19k/35k stadium.
    The Ulster Rugby CEO reported on design changes to the Maze that have 19k lower decks, with the corporate boxes moved down to the lowest level.
    Effectively this lower tier becomes a self contained mini stadium, suitable for most NI soccer matches.

    Importantly, it can be upscaled to 35k if needed, eg if England were playing.
    Economic / promotional aspects would be of huge benefit to IFA, and the extra 16k capacity is effectively free to the IFA/IRFU because the GAA, as anchor tenants, are the economic muscle to provide it.

    Secondly, I agree that the Maze is probably less convenient than Ormeau for NI soccer fans, the majority I guess who would be coming from Belfast, 11 miles away.

    The flip side is that the Maze is more convenient for GAA fans, who would probably be travelling a mean distance of at least 40 miles away.
    Then consider that GAA fans will comprise the majority of those who will use the stadium (150k GAA / 80k IFA / 40k IRFU ).

    Surely we should locate the stadium where it is more convenient for majority of fans who will use it, not the vocal minority?
    Especially when you consider the longer average distances that GAA fans will travel.

    If all sports bodies behaved like the anti-Maze brigade, then the GAA would have insisted on Dungannon, the IFA on Windsor, and the IRFU on somewhere like Malone.
    To their credit, the sports bodies realised the need for compromise, and accepted a location a mere 11 miles from Belfast, and on the motorway, making it easy for those from the South and West of Ulster.

    And Al, a very minor point about catering for the relatively small number of international away fans – the Maze is actually the same distnace, if not shorter actually, to Aldergrove than Ormeau. Admittedly,its further away than the harbour, but surely its not that major an issue – most serious international fans are used travelling, and an extra 11 miles wouldn’t faze them.

  • al

    I think you’re still missing a pretty major issue with the Maze idea Paul.

    It’s not the distance involved to get there but how easy it is to cover that distance.

  • lee

    Perhaps we can expect loyalist classics like these at a new ‘all inclusive, non racist, non-sectarian stadium in Belfast?

  • Doctor Who

    Lee

    Playing the yotube game is boring, old hat and of course works both ways.

  • KC

    Perhaps the iFA would prefer to build the stadium in the corn?

  • Paul

    AL,

    re [i] It’s not the distance involved to get there but how easy it is to cover that distance. [/i]

    Oh come on! What about using these revolutionary motorcar and omnibus things?
    Its straightforward to transport less than 20k people a measly 11 miles.

    There have already been bigger crowds at gaelic football matches this year.
    All these crowds got there by car or bus, and without the benefit of custom engineered sliproads, carparks, etc that would be built at the Maze.

    As said before, yes, the Maze is probably less convenient than Ormeau for NI soccer fans, the majority I guess who would be coming from Belfast.

    The flip side is that the Maze is more convenient for GAA fans, who will travel much larger distances, and in much bigger numbers (150k GAA / 80k IFA / 40k IRFU ).

    Surely we should locate the stadium where it is more convenient for majority of fans who will use it, not the vocal minority?