Connacht submits stadium expansion plans

Irish Pro14 rugby union team Connacht has today (Tuesday) submitted a planning application to Galway City Council for the redevelopment of its Sportsground stadium.

The club first revealed plans in October. The €30m (£27.1m/$34.2m) project would expand the capacity of the venue from 8,000 to 12,000 and the planning application comes after a detailed design process and public consultation carried out with technical advisers, TOBIN Consulting Engineers and Chapman Architects.

A stadium composition survey formed part of the public consultation process, which also included briefings to elected officials, the establishment of designated email address to deal with submissions, individual group meetings with residents, a public engagement session and an extensive media campaign.

Connacht said the allocation of public funds will form an essential component to the delivery of the project, with the submission coinciding with last week’s official launch of the government’s Large Scale Sports Infrastructure Fund.

Club chief executive Willie Ruane said: “Following the design phase and extensive engagement and consultation with the public we have now formally submitted our planning application to Galway City Council for the redevelopment of the Sportsground.

“Since the public announcement of the project in early October we have received widespread support from the public and elected representatives for the development of the stadium and delivery of a high-performance training centre. Our public consultation has also allowed us to really engage with local residents and address issues or observations that they raised.”

He added: “We welcome the launch of the Large Scale Sports Infrastructure Fund, which the Government announced over the past few weeks. We have already presented an outline of the project to members of the Oireachtas including the Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, who has been supportive of the development and of its strategic benefits to the entire region. The scheme outline sets out the need for regional distribution of the fund along with the need to develop multi use facilities, making the Sportsground an ideal location for development. Our formal submission for public funding will be made in line with the application criteria.”

Connacht has played at the Galway-based stadium since 1927. Under an agreement with the Irish Greyhound Board (IGB) and the freehold owners of the Sportsground, the revamp plans to deliver a modern, fit-for-purpose stadium in addition to a new high-performance training centre for Connacht while also retaining existing greyhound racing facilities.

Image: Connacht Rugby