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Design & Development

Dublin’s National Basketball Arena set for major redevelopment

Basketball Ireland has unveiled plans for a redevelopment of the National Basketball Arena which would double the Dublin venue’s capacity, once complete.

An application for planning permission has been submitted for the €35m (£30.2m/$38.3m) project, which would see the new multi-sport and multi-use arena have a capacity of 3,300. The proposed works would get underway in the summer of 2025 and are expected to take 18 months, completed in time for the start of the 2026-27 season.

The 8,000 square metre facility, designed by NBK Architects, will have space for four basketball courts and aims to be a fully accessible and inclusive facility for all sports participants. It will also house a gym and café, along with corporate facilities and office space for Basketball Ireland staff.

The project has the support of Badminton Ireland, Irish Squash and Volleyball Ireland, with Basketball Ireland stating that the three bodies have all expressed an interest in using the new amenity. Basketball Ireland CEO, John Feehan, said: “The new Arena will provide a best-in-class indoor sports facility, which will cater for multiple sports, along with it being a premium indoor event space. 

“It will be the home of Irish basketball and illustrates the passion and drive within the organisation to continue the growth of the game. Sport plays such a vital role in Irish society and this will be a wonderful resource, not just for the local community, but for the country as a whole.”

Funding to build the new Arena would be sought through government support, via the Large Scale Sport Infrastructure Fund (LSSIF), with applications due to open early in 2024. Basketball Ireland will also look to raise funds via a naming rights partner for the new Arena, along with a philanthropic programme, general fundraising, commercial sources and “prudent lending”, where required. 

Basketball Ireland chairperson, Professor Seamas Donnelly, added: “The current National Basketball Arena was built in 1993 and while it has served us well, it’s in need of an upgrade to future-proof the venue and help continue the progress of the sport.

“The National Basketball Arena caters for every level of basketball – from schools, colleges, wheelchair, Masters and SOCIA-Ball, to the elite level of our National League and National Cup, along with being the venue for Irish international teams competing in FIBA EuroBasket and FIBA World Cup qualifiers.

“This new multi-sport Arena will be a huge asset to the Irish sporting landscape in Ireland and it’s wonderful to have the support of other indoor sports – Badminton Ireland, Irish Squash and Volleyball Ireland – for the project.” 

Environmental considerations have also been factored in to the design, with 55 EV charge points and solar panels with a view to ensuring the building will be constructed to the highest energy efficient standards.

The new Arena will have an air to water heating system for heating and PV electric generation. There will be rainwater collection and reuse, a green roof for sustainable drainage and augmentation of wildlife habitat, while much of the landscaping would feature native wildflowers. In addition, extensive bicycle storage will be available for those traveling to the Arena.

NBK Architects director, Mark Whelan, said: “We wanted to bring a visually impressive look to the home of Irish basketball, while its function was at the forefront of our minds in design, ensuring it is a multi-sport and multi-use Arena, with the ability to house trade shows, conferences and functions.

“The aesthetic is intentionally simple and refined and designed to present a building that is in context with its city edge location, taking cues from buildings that line the M50 (motorway).

“The Arena building is principally clad in aluminium cladding to the walls, with a large trussed roof. The colour scheme is primarily dark tones, to work with the verdant surroundings, with elements in orange as a nod to the sport that the facility is dedicated to.”