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Finn Harps amend plans for new stadium amid cost worries

Irish Premier Division football club Finn Harps has revised its plans for the new Donegal Community Stadium amid concerns over the cost of the existing project.

Planning permission for a new stadium was first sought in 2005, but the development has stalled since then. While €1m (£849,000/$1.06m) has already been spent on the project in Stranorlar, the current price tag of €11.5m was expected to rise due to changes in the cost of construction.

While the revised plans maintain capacity at the planned 6,130, the number of seats has been slashed by around half to help bring the budget down to around €8m. Explaining the reasons behind the changes, Finn Harps pointed to the challenges also being faced by other Premier Division clubs.

Bohemian FC and Dublin City Council (DCC) last week rejected reports that the transformation project for the club’s Dalymount Park will be scaled back amid concerns over rising costs.

Finn Harps said: “Supporters will have seen last week that the Dalymount Park project in Dublin had to be revisited as prices for building works have rapidly risen with regard to their original plans. Finn Harps also faced this dilemma as we noted last year that inflation in the construction industry was going to be a major issue for us.  

“As a result, our stadium sub group looked at other options for construction with bottom line budget and the desire to deliver a complete modern stadium being the determining factors. We looked at stadia in Ireland, Europe and the UK which used steel structures as the main component of the build.

“We opened discussions with the Department of Sport, Donegal County Council and the FAI (Football Association of Ireland) and because of this proactive approach we are now at a very advanced stage with regard to receiving approval for an alternative build.

“The stadium we propose will have a capacity of 6,130 totally covered. There will be 3,300 seated along both sidelines, comprised of 1,930 on the West Stand (current structure) and 1,400 on the East Stand with 2,800 standing in covered terracing (1,400 behind each goal).

“Since January of this year we have gone directly to the marketplace to ascertain up to date costs and we are in direct discussions with a number of suppliers about building the different elements of the stadium.

“It will take approximately nine months to construct and when we lay the pitch it will take 10 months to mature. We have not got a definitive start date as yet but we must lay the pitch at the latest in September 2023 which means all building will have to be complete by that date.

“We have put in a lot of work over the past four months to the extent that we are now very hopeful that the Department of Sport will approve the recommencement of work in the near future. While it is not over the line yet, we are optimistic that we can at long last deliver a stadium that is modern, accessible, atmospheric and that all of the county can be proud of.”

Finn Harps’ current home, Finn Park, is restricted to a seating capacity of 300 due to its rundown nature, with the FAI having granted the club permission to continue playing games on the basis that a new stadium will be delivered.

Finn Harps added: “€1m has already been spent on this project with the next phase costing €5.5m which includes the construction of the stadium, erecting floodlights and laying the pitch. A further €1.5m will be needed following that to fully complete the project which includes toilet blocks, hard surfaces, landscaping etc.

“This will bring the total cost to circa €8m which is no mean feat as the projected cost 15 months ago from the original plans was €11.5m. A lot of work has been done but a huge task lies ahead. The club will be embarking on major fundraising efforts in the near future and have spoken to companies about naming rights options and have planned events in Dublin and London.”

Images: Finn Harps