26/03/2009

£66m East Belfast Stadium Plans Revealed

Plans for a massive new Northern Ireland sports stadium - aimed at regenerating east Belfast - have been unveiled by an ambitious business consortium.

Eastonville Traders Ltd said it will build the £66m football and rugby complex in the Sydenham area of the city.

Plans are afoot to locate the 20,000-seater stadium on a 90-acre site at the Danny Blanchflower Stadium.

It is not thought GAA games will be played at the facility.

According to the businessmen behind the scheme, both the IFA and Ulster Rugby will benefit.

According to reports, the stadium could be built in 18 months.

The news comes weeks after Sports Minister Gregory Campbell spiked any plans for a national multi-purpose sports stadium at the former Maze prison site.
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Talks have already been held with Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure officials, and Belfast City Council has been briefed on the proposals.

Consortium members said they are confident the project is realistic amid the ongoing recession.

They also believe the site is neutral and offers good transport links - it is a mere mile away from the city airport and runs parallel to the main Bangor to Belfast rail line.

No Irish league side has officially partnered with the scheme, however, it is thought Glentoran may ditch its existing ground at the Oval.

The IFA nor the Ulster Branch of the IRFU have officially confirmed their commitment to the new stadium as yet.

Gilbert Graham, project manager, said he believes the new project is "economically sustainable".

"We are hoping that the rail link may include a new halt which would serve the stadium and the airport across the road."

(PR/JM)

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