RDS plans €35m spend to redevelop its main stadium

Society wants to increase main arena capacity to 25,000 for horse show

Redeveloping the main stadium at the Royal Dublin Society's grounds in Ballsbridge is expected to cost about €35 million, its chief executive Michael Duffy has told The Irish Times.

Mr Duffy said the RDS is working on a funding model for the redevelopment, which will include applying to the Government for a sports capital grant.

“We are fully responsible for the funding of the project,” Mr Duffy said.

The RDS wants to increase its main arena capacity from 18,500 to about 25,000 to host Leinster Rugby’s Pro 12 and European home matches, along with the Dublin Horse Show and outdoor concerts.


It is understood a Government grant covering up to half of the cost could be sought.

Naming rights

The balance would come from the RDS’s own resources and from naming rights to the stadium, which could be worth up to €10 million for a 10-year period. The RDS is finalising the stadium design with a view to submitting a planning application in June.

The RDS published its annual report last week, which showed that revenues rose by 8 per cent to €17.6 million in 2014. Its surplus, or profit, for 2014 amounted to just under €1.5 million.

This was 6 per cent lower than in 2013 and reflected an increase in funding for its foundation or philanthropic activities, Mr Duffy said.

Foundation activities “It was an extremely good year for the RDS,” Mr Duffy said. “We increased our funding for foundation activities to €1.4 million,” adding that the strong performance has continued into 2015. “Revenue for the first quarter was ahead of budget.”

The RDS is also considering the construction of a second office block, which would cost about €40 million. It received a five-year extension to its original planning permission last year, taking it out to 2019.

“It’s a question of timing,” Mr Duffy said, adding that the society would seek to secure tenants in advance of construction. Its existing office block was fully let in 2014 with rental income increasing by 19 per cent to almost €3.8 million.

The RDS hosted 301 commercial events in 2014, generatingincome of just under €13 million, up 4.7 per cent on the previous year. The Dublin Horse Show cost €4.3 million to stage in 2014, with the society recouping €4.2 million from sponsors, exhibitors and spectators. Attendances at the show rose by 4 per cent.

Ciarán Hancock

Ciarán Hancock

Ciarán Hancock is Business Editor of The Irish Times