20/12/2010

Casement Park Transformation Kicks-Off

The Stormont Executive's approval of imaginative plans to transform Casement Park in west Belfast into an all-seater stadium has been given a warm welcome.

Boosting both Gaelic sport and creating many jobs in the construction sector during the building work, the project will cost an estimated £100m with investment to come from the NI Government and the Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA).

The 40,000-seat stadium will feature international-standard floodlights, premium and corporate facilities and other amenities.

The new stadium will serve as the venue for Ulster football finals, as well as other major games.

Welcoming the news, GAA Ulster Council President Aogan Farrell said: "The redevelopment of Casement Park will have major economic, regeneration and social benefits for the entire community.

"Sport makes a strong social and economic contribution to society in areas such as the promotion of tourism, health and well-being, community development, social capital and cohesion and also contributes to good relations.

"This project is another example of the positive role that sport has to play in the wider community."

In an official response, the Ulster Council GAA has already welcomed the draft budget statement made last Wednesday by the Minister for Finance and Personnel, Sammy Wilson, which included this commitment by the Executive for a capital envelope for regional sports stadia development.

"This underlines the existing commitment made by the First Minister and Deputy First Minister on the 8th April 2009 to meet the strategic needs of the three largest governing bodies of sport, namely Ulster GAA, IFA and Ulster Rugby," the statement said.

"Ulster GAA now looks forward to the conclusion of the draft budget consultation process and are hopeful of a positive response regarding regional stadia development funding so that Ulster GAA Stadium Project Board can progress with its plans for the redevelopment of Casement Park Stadium in Belfast," the statement continued, also noting that the Stadium Project Board will now continue its planning and consultation work alongside the three stadium sub-groups.

"We look forward to the completion of the budget consultation process and the approval of the Assembly's budget 2011-2015 in February 2011," it concluded.

(BMcC)

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