Decision on where to locate €50 million event centre in Cork likely to be delayed

Withdrawal of venue operator Live Nation impacts on tender for State-assisted centre

The historic Beamish and Crawford site in Cork is one of the proposed sites for the event centre

The historic Beamish and Crawford site in Cork is one of the proposed sites for the event centre

Tue, Jul 8, 2014, 09:57

A decision on where to locate a €50 million event centre in Cork looks set to be delayed following a decision by a global entertainment company to withdraw from a tender process involved in the selection.

Rival developers BAM/ Heineken and O’Callaghan Properties had both selected US company Live Nation to operate their respective 6,000-seater centres in Cork in tenders submitted earlier this year to Cork City Council.

Cork City Council had hired consultants PricewaterhouseCooper to assess both projects and come up with a recommendation in favour of either the BAM/Heineken proposal for the former Beamish & Crawford brewery site or the OCP proposal for the Albert Quay area.

It was due to issue its report today but that plan appears to have been thrown into disarray when Live Nation withdrew from both the BAM/Heineken and OCP tenders to avail of €16 million in State funding for the project.

Both projects had been granted planning permission by both Cork City Council and An Bord Pleanála on appeal but under a proposal to provide €16 million in State funding, both developers were required to submit a tender confirming that they had an operator for their project.

Central funding

Last November, the Government confirmed that it was to make €10 million available in central funding from the proceeds of the sale of the National Lottery while Cork City Council had committed €6 million to help get the project off the ground.

However it emerged last week that Live Nation was not happy with some of conditions being imposed on the event operator by Cork City Council as part of the tender agreement and the US giant withdrew its involvement from both rival bids.

One source told The Irish Times: “Usually such matters are agreed upon between the developer and the operator but because €16 million was being provided by the State, Cork City Council drew up a series of conditions and some of these caused concern to Live Nation.” It is believed that some of the conditions affected the commercial attractiveness of the entire project for Live Nation.

Last Friday was the closing date for tender submissions to Cork City Council. It is understood that BAM/Heineken did submit a tender before then despite Live Nation’s withdrawal.

Meanwhile a spokesman for OCP said the company was not in a position to make a compliant legal bid to Cork City Council last Friday as per the tender documents which required the confirmed involvement of an operator for its site on Albert Quay.

A spokesman for Cork City Council declined to comment other than to say that discussions were ongoing and “at a delicate stage” and a report on the event centre was due to be presented to councillors at next week’s council meeting.

A spokesman for Heineken also declined to comment in relation to its position while Live Nation said in a statement that it was awaiting an outcome from a Cork City Council meeting which was addressing the issue.