Four major sporting bodies sign up to new National Sports Campus plan – Varadkar
GAA, Rugby, Soccer & Hockey back Government initiative
Four major sporting governing bodies have signed up to a new Government plan to develop the National Sports Campus in Blanchardstown, with work set to start this year, Minister for Transport, Tourism & Sport Leo Varadkar has announced.
Minister Varadkar was joined by the chief executives of the Gaelic Athletic Association, the Irish Rugby Football Union, the Football Association of Ireland and the Irish Hockey Association to launch the new plan, as well as by representatives of the National Sports Campus Development Authority (NSCDA).
Minister Varadkar said: ‘This marks a new beginning for the National Sports Campus and I am delighted that these four sporting organisations have come on board under this new plan – the Development Through Partnership plan. Despite the current economic situation the Government, the NSCDA and the sporting organisations have worked together to drive this exciting project forward. I expect to see good progress being made over the next 12 months’.
“All four bodies have agreed in principle to develop their sections of the Campus. For its part, the Government has allocated funding to develop the vital access route and provide serviced infrastructure this year. The Government has also provided a limited and equal financial incentive of matching funding for each body to commence development as soon as possible.
“The Bertie Bowl is no more, but the National Sports Campus lives on. The FAI, the National Aquatic Centre and the Irish Institute of Sport are already on site. The new Irish Sport HQ will provide a home for around 19 other sporting organisations. Multi-purpose all-weather pitches and training facilities for GAA, Soccer, Rugby and Hockey will follow.”
Under the new plan:
• GAA, Hockey, Rugby & Soccer have signed up to accept and develop their own facilities on site;
• Campus infrastructure and technical services will be installed before the end of 2012;
• All-Weather Field Sports Facilities will be developed over the next two years, and will be open to the public;
• 19 National Governing Bodies (NGBs) of Sport will join FAI on Campus within a year;
• NSCDA will seek private funding for a National Indoor Sports Arena;
• Work is starting on a new HQ for the Irish Sports Council.
Speaking on behalf of the NSCDA, Mr Sean Benton, the newly-appointed Chairman of the Authority, welcomed the Minister’s comments. He said that the Authority was equally confident that a vital piece of Irish national sporting infrastructure will be established at Blanchardstown.
“We are totally committed to the creation of a world-class facility which will provide our sportsmen and sportswomen with the facilities which they deserve as they continue to do us all proud. We are delighted with the Government’s renewed commitment to the project. We are also delighted with their attitude which has enabled us to bring the project forward in a new spirit of partnership, flexibility and cooperation.”
Heads of Agreement
The FAI, GAA, IRFU and IHA have signed Heads of Agreement to accept and develop the areas allocated to them on the Campus, in line with the overall Master Plan design for the 520 acre site. Significant work will take place on the Campus over the next 12 months, despite the constraints imposed by the economic situation. Equal grants of matching funding will be awarded to each body to further develop the facilities on their sites.
Essential access works
Work on the access road and serviced infrastructure will begin in September, and will be completed by the end of 2012. This will allow the FAI, GAA, IRFU and IHA access to serviced sites, enabling the development of their own facilities within the overall Campus Development Control Plan.
Irish Sport HQ
Work on refurbishing an existing building on site as a new Irish Sport HQ for around 19 National Governing Bodies (NGBs) of sport is underway and is scheduled for completion by November this year. They will join the FAI which relocated its HQ to the Campus in December 2007, and the Irish Institute of Sport which is already based in the Campus.
All weather pitches
Work will start on a series of all-weather, multi-sport pitches and a pavilion adjacent to the National Aquatic Centre. These will be available for use by the major field sports as well as the public, on sustainable commercial terms. This will also ensure there is real community gain from the project. The pitches and the pavilion will be completed over the next two years.
The NSCDA will shortly launch a campaign to seek private funding for the National Indoor Training Arena on the site. Proposed facilities would include the National Indoor Athletics Track, the National Gymnastics Centre and a Multi-Sport court for the major indoor sports.
Essential work has been conducted on Abbotstown House. The building is expected to be the new HQ of the Irish Sports Council following its proposed merger with the NSCDA, within three or four years.