Leinster Council chair John Horan has raised again the prospect of a GAA stadium on Dublin's M50, identified a possible location and suggested that it could form part of the IRFU bid to host RWC 2023.
Speaking at the launch in Croke Park of the province’s Strategic Vision and Action Plan 2015-18, he said that whereas development work needed to be done in venues, especially in north Leinster – Newbridge, Drogheda, Longford and Navan – there was also a need to develop a 40,000 capacity stadium to accommodate fixtures requiring that capacity.
Rather than overdevelop current county grounds, Horan said the plan was “to have one regional stadium strategically placed so that when you have major games that you would be able to facilitate them”.
As there is little available land inside the M50 – Dublin county board was the under bidder on a Nama sale of the Spawell complex – he suggested that there might be an appropriate site on the other side of the ring road.
“If you ever go out the M50, there’s a junction seven and a junction nine but there’s no junction eight. Junction eight was meant to be obviously between seven and nine and if you go out there and look on the right-hand side, outside the M50, there’s a big land bank in there and some people speculated, put in junction eight and put in a stadium in there on that land bank.
“You won’t be a million miles away from the Luas line. You’ll have the infrastructure of the motorway and you won’t be bringing everyone straight into the traffic nest that’s in Dublin, that if people are travelling to it that you’re not going to cause congestion and then, in turn, you’ll have a 40,000 seater stadium where you probably won’t get residential complaints about concerts. It has been looked at without a very deep study but it has been looked at as a possibility, yeah.”
Former GAA president Liam O’Neill suggested a similar development 12 months ago but it was clarified that any such project would have to await the completion of stadium renewals in Belfast and Cork.
Horan said he “would see it as the next serious development that the GAA should take on, and there’s Aogán Ó Fearghail (association president) saying it as well in a recent interview that something has to be looked at. I’d say it’s on the cards”.
He also proposed that PCT, the holding company for Croke Park, have a role. “I think PCT can take that on and deliver a stadium that would have that capacity of about 40,000 and I think that would fill the actual need and suffice in terms of the development.”
Asked could the project be linked with the IRFU’s 2023 rugby World Cup bid, which already features GAA grounds, Horan said that was possible.
“The RWC is 2023, that’s whatever, eight years away. I think if the Cork and Casement Park projects move on quite quickly that it is a possibility and . . it would be an opportunity to look at and see could we get the State to support it.”
He added the GAA was aware there had been little expenditure on stadia in the province apart from Croke Park.
"Páraic Duffy (director general) has been known in the past to say that there has been no major spend in Leinster, and probably because this stadium here (Croke Park) has led to a kind of comfort zone, that the need hasn't been there, but when you look at the money that is going into Munster, that is going into Ulster, some money has to come Leinster's way soon and hopefully that will push all those stadia on."