Blackrock College RFC has agreed to sell off a portion of its grounds at Stradbrook Road in the south county Dublin suburb. Following an agm, the club has decided to sell the car park area just inside the main gates of the club.
None of the playing surfaces will be directly affected by the sale, although a new car park will, in time, be built at the lower end of the grounds when a new entrance and roadway are constructed.
The decision has been voted on and passed but must also be carried in an egm, which has yet to be held. It is believed the egm will also pass the motions and the portion of ground will be sold to a developer.
The land, which is less than one acre in size, is being developed to address the club’s substantial debt, which members have been told is at €1.2 million.
An agreement has already been reached with developers Tetrarch Capital with some estimates putting the value of the deal as high as €3 million. The final number will not be known until after detailed planning permission is granted and the developers know exactly what they can build.
What has been agreed, once passed at the EGM, is that the club shall receive €700,000 with the balance to be paid at a later date. The current thinking is to apply for 125 units in an apartment block, which when built will be rented to senior residents. The club will receive a sum for each apartment making it in their interest to fully support the development.
The rugby club originally sold a portion of the grounds over 30 years ago, where two office blocks currently stand. One is being run as a creche and the other offices. It is understood Tetrarch Capital owns both buildings. The proceeds of that sale of the land was used to pay for the construction of the existing clubhouse.
In 2014 negotiations between Blackrock and the much larger Cuala GAA club from Dalkey ended following over a year of negotiations.
The plan was to enter a groundsharing agreement whereby Cuala would purchase a section of the Blackrock ground and shift their headquarters to Stradbrook Road. A subsequent deal was then struck with Cabinteely FC in 2015 for the soccer club to play their home games at the ground.
Seven years ago, the IRFU published the report of a working party that looked into club sustainability in Ireland. The document was drawn up after consultation with clubs as well as engagement with other sports and other rugby unions.
It revealed that 121 clubs had cumulative debt of over €20 million. Three clubs were highlighted, although not identified, as having debt of over €1 million. With 50 senior clubs, 10 more separate women’s clubs and dozens of junior clubs, there are a total of 217 rugby clubs in Ireland.
Blackrock College RFC have been located at its present ground since Stradbrook House and its grounds were purchased in 1962. The club then rented an adjoining five acres and secured a sporting lease for £1,500 per annum. The club finally bought the land from owner Tom Braden.
Since the pandemic began all sport has been hit hard financially with Old Belvedere RFC president Paul Cunningham telling this paper in 2020 that All-Ireland League rugby clubs would take as much as a €100,000 hit with the loss of summer camps, concerts, birthdays, Tag Rugby, and in some instances significant income from parking for large events around Ballsbridge.