Redevelopment of RDS gets go ahead

Increased capacity of Ballsbridge stadium not expected to cause any problems

The RDS will increase capacity from 18,500 to 25,000 for the 2017 season.

The RDS will increase capacity from 18,500 to 25,000 for the 2017 season.


Leinster and the RDS do not foresee any issues arising from plans to increase the size of their stadium in Ballsbridge. In redeveloping the current ground from a capacity 18,500 to 25,000 for the 2017 season, the RDS, which is supplying €20 million for the project, will continue to organise concerts as one of their main revenue streams.

Another source of finance will come from the naming rights of the new stadium as well as additional corporate hospitality.

‘No disturbance’

The venue has staged up to five concerts in previous years although recently that has been reduced. Capacity for concerts is 35,000-40,000 as fans can be located on the pitch surface.

“We don’t have a specific number on that,” said RDS Chief Executive Michael Duffy when asked if there was a limit on the number of concerts. “In the past there have been up to five. Typically we have had two or three subject to license.

“We have a good ongoing relationship with residents. We have been talking about development for some time. There has been no disturbance as this has always been a family environment.”

The naming rights issue is fraught and while the Leinster and RDS brands are strong, Munster decided not to sell their naming rights to Thomond Park despite putting the name on the market. It was reported that offers for the iconic brand were not high enough for Munster to accept.

Leinster and the Dublin Horse Show brands, given the locality, the demographic and visibility in the capital would be worth more to a potential sponsor, maybe 50 per cent more according to marketing sources. The nearby 50,000 capacity Aviva Stadium bought the naming rights for Lansdowne Road for a reported €40 million over 10 years.

The design of the new complex, which will involve the replacement of the old Angelsea Road stand, should be suitable for both Leinster home games and the Dublin Horse Show.

Delay in beginning the project is due to an international architectural competition taking place to decide the design of the build. A six-month time frame has been put in place for that with work on the stadium not expected to begin until April 2017 at the earliest.

The design competition will be administered by the Royal Institute of Architects and adjudicated by a five-person jury.

Leinster will continue to play their home games at the venue and as the old stand is being replaced temporary seating will be installed for the season ticket holders.

Even after completion, there will be standing room for fans in an otherwise entirely seated stadium.

Loss of capacity

“There will be about 1,500 on the terrace,” said Leinster Chief Executive Mick Dawson. “There are 2,500 season ticket holders in the current Angelsea stand, so there will be a bit of pain during construction but we hope to keep the ambience of the RDS intact but provide better corporate and toilet facilities. When it is complete we believe the fans will be getting a better bang for their buck.”

The temporary loss of capacity will be around 3,000 during the construction phase.

The current PRO12 champions moved into the RDS from the smaller Donnybrook in 2007 and the franchise has proven to be a huge success.

There is no public or government money involved. Leinster remain the anchor tenant at the RDS, having signed a 20-year lease until 2027.

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