Casement Park Redevelopment Project Suffers Another Setback

Casement Park Redevelopment Project Suffers Another Setback

19 Dec    Business, Finance News

The Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA) says plans to redevelop Casement Park in Belfast will proceed despite the organisation severing ties with the construction contractor.

GAA has confirmed that Heron Bros Limited will not deliver the main works for the project due to ‘the restrictions of the Public Contract Regulations’.

The redevelopment of the stadium, which is being overseen by Ulster GAA, is crucial to Ireland’s hopes of hosting matches at the UEFA European Championship in 2028.

“We are working closely with our partners in the Department for Communities (DfC) to progress procurement of a contractor using recognised frameworks for major construction projects,” the GAA said.

“We are determined and confident that construction work will commence in line with the timelines required to host the UEFA European Championship in 2028.

“Ulster GAA is bringing forward critical aspects of the construction programme to progress the project, at pace, during the process to secure a new main contractor in the coming months, including site clearance and a range of enabling works packages.”

Casement Park is due to be turned into a 34,500-capacity stadium, which would give Belfast the opportunity to stage major events across several different sports.

The redeveloped venue would be a boost to Belfast’s sporting profile and deliver major economic benefits to the city. Online gambling is among the industries currently monitoring developments.

Turning Casement Park into a state-of-the-art stadium would open the door for major GAA events to once again be staged in west Belfast. This would be guaranteed to generate increased traffic on GAA betting sites given how much local fans love wagering on sports.

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Hosting Euro 2028 games would also spark a flurry of activity on online sportsbooks, further boosting a sector which is currently on a steep upward curve in Ireland.

Casement Park has been derelict for the past decade and plans to redevelop the venue have repeatedly been hit by controversies and delays.

It was announced in 2013 that the stadium would be rebuilt in a joint venture by Northern Ireland firm Heron Bros and the England-based Buckingham Group.

However, the latter went into administration in September, which has forced the GAA to tender for alternative options. Given the importance of Euro 2028, time is of the essence.

The Casement Park redevelopment would need to be completed by the summer of 2027 to ensure there is sufficient time to prepare for the tournament.

Several test events need to be staged to demonstrate the stadium is fit for purpose, leaving the GAA with a race against time to appoint new contractors and have the work completed.

Funding the work is also an issue, with the projected original cost of £77.5 million expected to be way off the mark. Some analysts have forecast the redevelopment will cost at least double that figure.

The GAA is reportedly willing to contribute around £15m, but it is unclear whether the UK and Irish governments will make up the deficit despite making previous promises to that effect.

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