Cork Event Centre developer ‘100% committed’ to the project despite delays

The cost of the project has since risen to between €75 million and €80 million with both Bam International and Live Nation requesting a further €10 million in state funding

The developers of the long awaited Cork Event Centre have insisted that they are fully committed to the project. Photograph: iStock

The developers of the long awaited Cork Event Centre have insisted that they are fully committed to the project. Photograph: iStock

 

The developers of the long awaited Cork Event Centre have insisted that they are fully committed to the project and hope to be in a position to commence construction by the end of the year, with completion scheduled for late 2020 or early 2021.

BAM Ireland CEO Theo Cullinane re-iterated his company’s commitment to delivering the 6,000 seater event centre on the site of the former Beamish & Crawford brewery on South Main Street in conjunction with US event management company, Live Nation.

But Mr Cullinane cautioned that the company will have to resubmit the project for planning because of a change of use. This involves the redesign of the original plan which will see some office space being forfeited for the event centre arena on the South Main Street side of the site.

He said this planning issue could take a number of weeks to resolve and would put the company under pressure to commence actual construction by Q4 this year. Construction is estimated to take 18 to 22 months.

The project has become mired in controversy over the past two years due to lack of progress on the site. Then Taoiseach, Enda Kenny, visited the site in Februrary 2016 to turn the sod at the site.

Several commentators have dismissed Mr Kenny’s high profile visit as just an election stunt, but Mr Cullinane today insisted that BAM Ireland is fully committed to the project even though the precise details on funding for have yet to be finalised.

The original project was estimated to cost €50million, with Cork City Council due to commit €8 million and Central Government due to commit €12 million and the balance due from BAM International and Live Nation.

However the cost of the project has since risen to between €75 million and €80 million with both Bam International and Live Nation requesting a further €10 million in state funding. Negotiations have been ongoing between all parties to try and bridge the funding shortfall.

Mr Cullinane would not be drawn on the funding negotiations, saying matters were “at a delicate stage” but he did point out that public funding would be capped at 50per cent under state aid rules and he expressed confidence both the planning and funding issues would be resolved in parallel.

“This is a project that Cork has been talking about for about 25 years, there had been six or seven attempts to deliver this project ever before we got involved in it. We initiated this project in 2013 and we will stick with the project until we deliver it and I am absolutely confident we will deliver it.”

He said no taxpayer’s money has been spent on the project to date with the expenditure so far being carried by BAM International and Live Nation but stressed there would be a huge benefit to Cork, having previously suggested it would be worth €17-18 million per year to the local economy.

“My objective is to deliver a world class event centre for Cork and Live Nation are on board with us on this but it needs to be funded and the people of Cork and the people of Ireland will have to pay for it but the benefits accruing to Cork over the next 25 years will be enormous.

“In all other cities in the world, and we are involved in building a lot of event centres, the local council and the central government funds the full cost of the centre and it is then leased to Live Nation but in Cork, Live Nation are coming in to fund it with us,” he said.

“It’s a big complicated project but we are 100 per cent committed to delivering it -if we weren’t, the project would have collapsed many years ago as did all the all the other projects - we will deliver this event centre for Cork and, as a Corkman, I will be delighted to be associated with it.”