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Connacht gains planning permission for Sportsground revamp

Irish Pro14 rugby union team Connacht has secured full planning permission for the redevelopment of its Sportsground stadium, stating that the project is now “shovel ready”.

The initial redevelopment plans were launched following an arrangement reached between the Irish Greyhound Board (IGB) and the freehold owners of the Sportsground, the Galway Agricultural and Sports Society, with respect to a shared vision for the future of the stadium.

Connacht submitted a planning application to Galway City Council for the redevelopment in December after first revealing the plans in October. The €30m (£26.3m/$33.5m) project will include a full redevelopment of the stadium, expanding capacity of the venue from 8,000 to 12,000, as well as the development of a multi-use indoor high performance training centre.

With €10m in private funding approved through a mixture of Connacht Rugby funds and an approved bank credit facility, the club said state investment of €20m is now critical to the delivery of the project.

The strategic benefits of the project to the entire region are also closely aligned with the Irish government’s National Planning Framework, Project Ireland 2040, as well as the National Sports Policy, all of which highlight the need for a regional spread of capital investment throughout the country. Connacht also claims it fulfils the need for improved sports infrastructure in the region, identified in the Galway City Development Plan.

Connacht Rugby chief executive, Willie Ruane, said: “There has been huge momentum behind the project since we announced last October, and we now have the final granting of planning permission.

“With 130 people employed throughout the province by Connacht Rugby we are extremely proud of the annual contribution of €34.4m we are making to the regional economy. We have €10m in private funding to bring to the table through a mixture of Connacht Rugby funds and an approved bank credit facility. The project is now shovel ready and the remaining €20m state investment is critical to its delivery.”

Connacht has played at the Galway-based stadium since 1927. Under an agreement with the IGB and the freehold owners of the Sportsground, the revamp plans to deliver a modern, fit-for-purpose stadium while also retaining existing greyhound racing facilities.

Image: Connacht Rugby