Cork City Council chief predicts €80m event centre to proceed

Combined State investment of €50m at play in project undertaken by BAM and Live Nation

The 13,000sq m event centre on the site of former Beamish & Crawford brewery on South Main Street now has full planning permission.

The 13,000sq m event centre on the site of former Beamish & Crawford brewery on South Main Street now has full planning permission.

 

The long-awaited €80 million Cork Event Centre will become a reality as developer BAM and operator Live Nation remain committed to the project five years since then taoiseach Enda Kenny turned the first sod at the site, Cork City Council chief executive Ann Doherty has predicted.

Ms Doherty said that notwithstanding the challenges that the Covid-19 pandemic has posed for the live music and entertainment interest, she was confident that BAM and Live Nation would deliver on their pledge to provide a state-of-art 6,000 seat event centre for Cork.

“I met with Mike Adamson of Live Nation and they need a line of sight that their industry can recover and that has a bearing on investment. But they are very confident that will happen with the rollout of the vaccine which means their industry can start and get up and running again,” said Ms Doherty.

Ms Doherty said that the 13,000sq m event centre on the site of former Beamish & Crawford brewery on South Main Street now has full planning permission while a legal challenge from the Gleneagle in Killarney has been withdrawn.

Although the cost of the project has risen from an estimated €50 million in 2014 – when Bam-Live Nation saw off a rival bid from O’Callaghan Properties for a site on Albert Quay – to at least €80 million, Ms Doherty is confident that funding will not be a barrier to the development proceeding.

State investment

She explained that the original investment involved €8 million from Cork City Council and €12 million from central government. But that has now risen to a combined State figure of €50 million which the government has committed to while BAM-Live Nation will invest over €30 million in the project.

“BAM and Live Nation are going to set up a SPV (Special Purpose Vehicle) who will be in receipt of the government grant and that company will build the centre and that company will own and operate the centre and BAM then will at some stage exit the SPV company,” she said.

“The State’s return on its investment isn’t going to be a €50 million payback. The State’s return is going to be in the growth of the city.”

Ms Doherty said the reason for State investment in the project was simply “market failure”. But such investment of public monies in event centres is commonplace in cities throughout the world including in some instances where the state builds and retains ownership of the facility.

However it was felt that in the Cork context, particularly in light of the fact that Cork is a second city, it was more prudent to allow a commercial entity such as BAM-Live Nation build, operate and own the event centre to ensure they remain committed to the project proving a commercial success.

Once BAM and Live Nation finalise the detail of the SPV which will allow them secure third-party financing and the Government agrees the exact terms of the €50 million grant, work can start on a detailed design while construction is likely to take 18 months to two years to complete, she said.