• Lease agreements in place with FAI, GAA, IRFU and Irish Hockey Association to develop facilities on site
• FAI receives FIFA grant for developing training pitches
• New HQ for Irish Sport NGBs to be occupied early next year
• Work on multi-sport pitches & pavilion to commence in January 2013
• Site clearance and infrastructure works are underway
Minister for Transport, Tourism & Sport Leo Varadkar has confirmed a number of developments at the National Sports Campus in Blanchardstown including the development of high performance training facilities for Horse Sport Ireland and Pentathlon Ireland.
Speaking at a briefing on developments at the National Sports Campus, Minister Varadkar also confirmed that lease agreements have been put in place with the FAI, GAA, IRFU and Irish Hockey Association (IHA), after the ownership of lands at Blanchardstown were transferred from the Department of Agriculture to the Campus Development Authority in August.
“I’m very pleased with the huge progress made in the last six months. I hope this decision by HIS and Pentathlon Ireland will encourage many other NGBs to view the Campus as an ideal site for developing facilities and enhancing their own sport. Following on from the positive announcement on investment in training pitches from the FAI earlier this month, today’s announcement shows that the partnership approach between Government and sporting bodies which I announced last March is working,” Minister Varadkar said.
The National Sports Campus Development Authority will now develop a centre of excellence for Horse Sport Ireland/Pentathlon Ireland for equestrian sports, and facilities for the modern pentathlon.
• Ownership of the State lands, approximately 520 acres, was transferred by the Government from the Department of Agriculture to the NSCDA in August, allowing the Authority to draw up Lease Agreements with the FAI, GAA, IRFU and IHA to develop their own facilities on site. The FAI has subsequently received a grant towards the development work from FIFA;
• Site clearance and infrastructure works are underway. Tenders are also being sought for the installation of a new internal access road which opens up the site, and preparatory work for the installation of multi-sport all-weather pitches and a pavilion for use by the local community. This work, including the installation of the community pitches will be completed during 2013;
• Work on refurbishing an existing building on site as a new Irish Sport HQ will be completed early in the new year. Fit-out will take place in the early months of 2013. The first of the 18 NGBs to be based there is scheduled to come on site in March;
• Agreement has been reached between Horse Sport Ireland/Pentathlon Ireland for the development of a centre of excellence for equestrian sports and the modern pentathlon at the Campus. The cost of upgrading the existing facilities to the required standard required by Horse Sport Ireland is estimated to be around €600,000. A Business Plan is being put in place to sustain the facility and re-coup over 50% of the capital investment within ten years. Procurement and installation works are already underway and are expected to be completed by March 2013. The agreed plan with Horse Sport Ireland involves the development of a high performance equestrian training arena within the walled garden area of Abbotstown House, and the renovation of an adjacent farm outhouse to accommodate the Pentathlon disciplines of Fencing and Pistol Shooting. A Licence Agreement has already been executed between the NSCDA and Horse Sport Ireland on behalf of its affiliates, and especially Pentathlon Ireland. Ireland’s pentathletes Natalya Coyle and Arthur Lanigan-O’Keeffe enjoyed a prominent position at the recent London Olympics, and the hope is that these new facilities will help in the development of such athletes in the future.
NSCDA Chairman Sean Benton said: “The proximity to the National Aquatic Centre, the support services of the Irish Institute of Sport, and the availability of cross country courses on Campus will all be of considerable benefit to aspiring equestrian riders and pentathletes alike. It is our intention to continue rolling out training facilities which are required by elite athletes and yet are also made available to the public as we have done at the National Aquatic Centre and at Morton Stadium, Santry.”
HSI Chairman Joe Walsh said: “This move is a very important step for Irish Equestrian and affiliated sports. It not only provides us with the dedicated training facilities which we need, but it also merges equestrian sports with other mainstream sporting disciplines which can only be of benefit to all of Irish sport. Priority access will be given to high performance athletes, but the facilities will also be used by HSI affiliates and will also be open for private hire by the public.”