Moolah matters halt Dundalk venue construction


Louth GAA put stadium plans on hold Image: Louth GAA

The Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA) and the Louth County Board are at loggerheads over the county’s new stadium construction with Croke Park (Dublin, Ireland) insisting they cease plans for the venture pending a review.

‘Irish Examiner’ stated that there was disagreement between the parties about the €25 million, 14,000-capacity venue outside Dundalk in relation to proof of Louth’s funding.

In a latest development, the ‘Irish Mirror’ stated that construction on the stadium was due to begin in Dundalk on July 17th but was halted at the 11th hour, setting off a chain of events including the temporary resignation of the Chairperson of Louth GAA Peter Fitzpatrick.

‘Irish Mirror’ further stated that Peter Fitzpatrick led a delegation to Croke Park on July 19th to discuss “finances and issues” surrounding the proposed new Louth GAA Stadium in Dundalk, Ireland. Louth GAA participated in the “positive and constructive” meeting with Croke Park. Further discussions are planned.

Rising costs seem to be Croke Park’s biggest issue with the proposed 14,000-seater stadium. The Balbriggan-based construction firm Ganson has been awarded the contract to build the stadium, with development set to cost €25 million, which is more than double the initial forecast of €12 million.

Dublin (Ireland)-based the Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA) is an Irish international amateur sporting and cultural organization focused primarily on promoting indigenous Gaelic games and pastimes, which include the traditional Irish sports of hurling, camogie, Gaelic football, Gaelic handball, and rounders.

The Louth County Board of the Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA) or Louth GAA is one of the 32 county boards of the GAA in Ireland, and is responsible for Gaelic games in County Louth, Ireland.

The 82,300-capacity Croke Park is a Gaelic games stadium in Dublin, Ireland. Named after Archbishop Thomas Croke, it is referred to as Croker by the GAA fans and locals. It serves as both the principal national stadium of Ireland and headquarters of the Gaelic Athletic Association.

Construction of the stadium was meant to begin on July 17th but was postponed at the 11th hour after the GAA’s Central Council ordered ‘The Wee County’ not to go ahead with the development pending a reassessment of plans.

Despite initial plans to defy the order, Louth eventually backed down and reports soon emerged that Fitzpatrick had resigned as Chairperson of Louth GAA following a contentious county board meeting on July 16th.

Louth GAA has since confirmed that Fitzpatrick did indeed tender his resignation on July 16th, however, he backtracked less than 24 hours later.

It is thought that the GAA are concerned with the escalating costs of the stadium and are wary of a repeat of the Pairc Uí Chaoimh situation which saw the Cork stadium end up costing €99.5 million, almost €30 million more than was originally planned.

The 45,000-capacity Páirc Uí Chaoimh is a Gaelic games stadium in Cork, Ireland. It is the home of Cork GAA. The venue, often referred to simply as ‘The Park’, is located in Ballintemple and is built near to the site of the original Cork Athletic Grounds. The stadium opened in 1976 and underwent a significant two-year redevelopment before reopening in 2017.

Louth GAA claim they have €18 million set aside for the stadium, including €14.8m sourced from the Government’s Immigrant Investor Programme, with the €7 million deficit in funding to be raised through a Croke Park grant and other sources.

The Ireland Immigrant Investor Programme (IIP) is a system open to non-European Economic Area (EEA) nationals who commit to an approved investment in Ireland. There are four different routes within the Ireland Immigrant Investor Programme, with each requiring a large investment of money.

A letter was sent by Croke Park to Louth GAA in early June outlining their concerns with the project. Again, finances are the primary concern, with Croke Park worried at how the cost of the stadium, which was projected to run to €19 million back in January, had increased by 57 percent to €29 million just six months later.

This figure was later revised to €25 million after what the County Treasurer Aidan Berrill last month described as “small cutbacks”.

The GAA’s Infrastructure Committee had given the go-ahead for a figure of €18.9 million, and while factors such as inflation were noted, the GAA committee doesn’t believe this is an adequate reason for what they deemed a rise “without any prior indicative warnings”.

A new county ground has long been mooted for Louth and calls for a new venue have increased in recent years after the traditional home venue of the Gaelic Grounds in Drogheda (town in Ireland) was deemed unsuitable.

Fitzpatrick has been in the role of Chairperson for over three years. He has in the past been quoted as saying “beg or borrow, this stadium is going to happen”.

Recently, Fitzpatrick – who is an Independent TD for Louth – commented at the Joint-Oireachtas Committee on Tourism, Culture, Arts, Sports, and Media that “we’re trying to build a stadium at the moment and we just don’t have the money”.

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