The Galway Racecourse is to undergo a €6 million redevelopment aimed at enhancing the atmosphere ahead of 2018 festival.
The board of Horse Racing Ireland approved funding of €2.1 million for the course, which will be put towards a "substantial redevelopment" of the enclosure to the north of the parade ring.
The funding, which comes under the Racecourse Capital Development Scheme, brings the overall investment at the racecourse to €6 million, including all ancillary services and fit out.
As part of the redevelopment project, the existing long, narrow Tote Ireland building will be demolished and replaced with a new structure incorporating a betting hall and bar/food facilities.
The development will “vastly improve” the enclosure around the parade ring and bookmakers ring, Horse Racing Ireland said.
“The repositioning of the new building will create much greater circulation space for racegoers which will enhance the atmosphere and create ease of movement even on the busiest days,” it added.
Construction of the new building will begin immediately after the 2017 Galway Summer Festival with a launch date ahead of the 2018 festival planned.
The two-storey building will feature a large, open-plan betting hall with capacity for up to 550 racegoers on the ground floor, with Tote Ireland betting counters on three sides and a large betting shop on the fourth side.
Externally, there will be 46 Tote Ireland betting windows, with the majority facing the racetrack. The windows will be set back to provide weather protection to racegoers.
A modern champagne bar with a “high standard of décor” will be constructed on the first floor of the new building.
With capacity for 450 people, the champagne bar will open on to a large covered terrace overlooking the parade ring, betting ring and part of the racetrack. A sizeable portion of both upstairs and downstairs will be dedicated to new toilet facilities.
Horse Racing Ireland chief executive Brian Kavanagh said the development would provide an "attractive focal point" in the enclosure and an "improved level of comfort and shelter" for racegoers.
“Removing the existing Tote building will reconfigure a traditionally congested area around the betting ring and parade ring, opening up pedestrian access and improving the enclosure layout,” he said.
“Galway’s seven-day festival is our most popular festival and we are happy to provide grant aid for a project that will directly benefit racegoers who head west every year.”
Galway Racecourse manager Michael Moloney said the development would "significantly improve" the race-goer experience, and help maintain the Summer Festival's position as one of the highlights of the racing calendar.
“Each year, the Summer Festival puts Galway on the front pages and provides an extraordinary €54 million boost to the local economy,” he said.