Harold’s Cross stadium price secret due to ‘market sensitivities’

Minister says deal with Department of Education conducted transparently

Entrance to Harold’s Cross Greyhound Stadium. Photographer: INPHO/James Crombie

Entrance to Harold’s Cross Greyhound Stadium. Photographer: INPHO/James Crombie

 

The Department of Education has asked that the full details of its purchase of Harold’s Cross Greyhound Stadium not be revealed because of “market sensitivities’’, Minister of State for Agriculture Andrew Doyle has said.

“There has been due process in a transparent way,’’ he added.

A number of schools are set to be built on the Dublin site after the Irish Greyhound Board (IGB) accepted an offer from the department for the land.

Independent TD Michael Lowry, who raised the sale in the Dáil, said he understood an agreement was close on a sale price in excess of €20 million. He said TDs had been told consistently by a former board chairman that the stadium was worth €4 million-€6 million and that it should not be sold because it would not achieve its value.

The IGB, also known as Bord na gCon, is the semi-State body responsible for the control and development of the greyhound industry in Ireland. It has argued it does not make commercial sense to keep the Dublin stadium open, despite it making a profit of €280,000 in 2015, given that it is just 3km from Shelbourne Park Stadium.

Mr Doyle said details of the sale had yet to be received by his department and the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform for approval.

He said the sale would be given “due consideration’’, taking into account the need to develop the greyhound sector.

Assets

Mr Doyle said Bord na gCon had faced very difficult financial challenges in recent years and continued to operate in a difficult financial environment. A reduction in commercial income during the economic recession had been exacerbated by a significant debt burden, he added. He said Indecon economic consultants had recommended the board actively engage in a programme of asset disposals to reduce the debt in a meaningful way. It had referred to a number of specific assets, including Harold’s Cross Stadium, he said. Mr Doyle said it was against this background the board had taken the “difficult decision’’ in February to close the stadium to prepare it for sale, in part because of its close proximity to Shelbourne Park.