Cricket Ireland is poised to end a long wait to receive a permanent stadium after a project was included in a masterplan for the long-term development of the Sport Ireland Campus.
Taoiseach Micheál Martin yesterday (Thursday) unveiled the Sport Ireland Campus Masterplan Vision, which sets out a framework for the growth of the Campus, located in the Abbotstown area of Dublin, and the long-term development of associated sporting facilities over the next 15 to 20 years.
The wide-ranging masterplan intends to capture the aspirations of Sport Ireland and identify a proposed guide for the delivery of this vision. The Sport Ireland Campus is already home to world class sporting and support facilities and more will be added in the coming years through investment expected to amount to hundreds of millions of euros.
The first high-level project for delivery under the new masterplan is likely to be the National Velodrome and Badminton Centre. A planning application for the project was lodged with Fingal County Council by Sport Ireland in August and a decision is expected in the coming weeks.
Expected to cost €60m (£52.2m/$62.3m), the new facility intends to become a landmark venue both locally and throughout Ireland. The facility will house the first indoor velodrome track in Ireland, creating a permanent home for Cycling Ireland and Badminton Ireland.
Although a timeline is unclear, a cricket stadium, along with an ‘athletics and cricket plaza’, has been included for the complex’s Southern Parkland area. The new facility could be in place for when Ireland co-hosts the 2030 T20 World Cup alongside England and Scotland.
The Irish Times said Cricket Ireland has been holding talks with Government since 2018 over the development of permanent infrastructure. Ireland currently play home international fixtures at club grounds in Dublin, Belfast and Derry, which are scaled up using temporary stands depending on the demand for tickets.
Malahide Cricket Club is the current main venue, and hosted just under 10,000 fans when Ireland played India in a T20 international series in June. The Times said Malahide is still set to be used for certain internationals, even after the new stadium is built, in the main due to its popularity with fans given ease of access from the city centre.
The Sport Ireland Campus masterplan will be realised through a capital development programme over the next 15 to 20 years. It is envisaged that individual building and infrastructure projects will be delivered in a series of phases over the life cycle of the masterplan.
Martin said yesterday: “The Sport Ireland Campus is already an invaluable asset as part of the sporting infrastructure of the country and the developments as laid out in this document will enhance what are already world class facilities.
“The development of the Campus to date and the future developments have been funded by significant Government spending, and this Government is committed to supporting sport in Ireland because we are aware of all the benefits that being involved in sport at any level brings to individuals and communities.”
Sport Ireland board chairperson, Kieran Mulvey, added: “This masterplan represents a major milestone in the development of Sport Ireland and the Sport Ireland Campus. It is a major and positive assertion and vote of confidence in our current national sporting bodies and their athletes.
“It is a reward for their extraordinary successes , they have already achieved seven gold medals in World Championships in four sports this year, and an investment for the future in all forms of Olympic sports, World and European Championships and our own national sports.
“The existing sports facilities are of a world class standard and the future plans for new sports specific buildings will continue this objective. What started as a vision and a dream many decades ago is fast becoming a reality.”