Connacht have announced redevelopment plans for the Sportsground in Galway city, their home since 1927.
The project will deliver what they describe as “a modern, fit for purpose rugby stadium in addition to a new high-performance training centre for Connacht rugby while also retaining existing greyhound racing facilities.”
The development will cost in the region of €30m and will have a capacity of 12,000 spectators. It is intended that the development will be funded through a combination of public funds, most notably through the large-scale sports infrastructure fund, and private funding.
The path for the redevelopment plan has been cleared by an arrangement reached between the Irish Greyhound Board and the freehold owners of the Sportsground, the Galway Agricultural and Sports Society.
The arrangement will ensure that rugby fixtures and greyhound racing events will continue to be staged at the venue. The multi-use facility will also be made available for the hosting of other sporting fixtures and events where such demand arises.
Making the announcement, CEO of Connacht rugby, Willie Ruane said: "The arrangement we have reached with the IGB, paves the way for the delivery of modern fit for purpose facilities to sustain the Sportsground as the home of club and professional rugby in the province.
“The plans for the stadium redevelopment also include a high-performance training centre to provide both our existing professional players as well as our emerging talent access to appropriate facilities to enable them to fulfil their potential and go on to perform at the highest level.
“We have already been in contact with local residents on our plans and will be hosting a full public consultation in the coming weeks. In tandem with the planning process we will be submitting an application under the Government’s large-scale sports infrastructure fund. Independent economic research carried out in 2016, found that Connacht contributes €34.4 million to the regional economy. The delivery of this project will increase that contribution and provide a beacon for regional development in the west of Ireland. Our vision is to ensure that the province has a stadium which future generations of sports stars, supporters and all the people of the west of Ireland can be immensely proud of.”
While IRFU chief executive, Phillip Browne added: "The Sportsground has been the home of rugby in Connacht since 1927 and it is fitting that as the team develops the ground does too. The province has made huge progress on and off the field, and the development of these facilities will sustain Connacht into the future.
“A high-performance training centre and a modern stadium are important for the future of rugby in the west of Ireland and the IRFU is fully supportive of, and looks forward to, the development of this exciting project.”