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Design & Development

Capacity plans revised for Casement Park project

Featured image credit: Ulster GAA/Populous

The redeveloped Casement Park stadium in Belfast is set to open with a smaller capacity than originally planned ahead of the UEFA Euro 2028 football tournament.

Casement Park is due to be Northern Ireland’s sole host stadium during Euro 2028, which the country will co-host alongside England, Scotland, Wales and the Republic of Ireland.

There had been plans for the stadium to have a capacity of 34,500 when it opens ahead of Euro 2028, but the BBC has now reported that this has been reduced to 30,000.

This would represent a change in direction for the project, which had originally centred on a stadium with 26,000 seats and 8,500 standing spaces. UEFA rules state that stadiums must be all-seater, which has prompted the rethink. UEFA officials visited the stadium site last week.

A spokesperson for Northern Ireland’s Department for Communities, which is overseeing the project, told the BBC: “Work is ongoing with all partners to initially deliver the stadium to meet UEFA specifications.

“A stadium configuration of 30,000 seats will be provided for the Euro tournament, which will be returned to the Gaelic games configuration after the tournament, to provide 26,000 seats plus an 8,500-capacity standing terrace.”

Jarlath Burns, the newly appointed president of the Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA), recently said that he would not be in favour of the organisation providing further funds for the Casement Park project. The GAA has committed €15m (£13m/$16m) towards the project.

Burns’ comments came after the project received a boost as the Irish Government pledged €50m towards the scheme as part of wider investment commitments of over €800m in Shared Island projects.

Northern Ireland authorities are working alongside the GAA Ulster Council, which owns and manages the redevelopment project. Ulster GAA announced last month that initial development work had commenced on the project.

Casement Park has been closed since 2013 and plans for a new venue have been on the table for more than 10 years. The project has stalled due to financial and planning issues.

The project was originally intended to cost £77.5m but the BBC reported over the weekend that it could now reach more than £300m. The BBC cited a recent letter from Northern Ireland Secretary of State Chris Heaton-Harris, addressed to Communities Minister Gordon Lyons.

UEFA is hoping that the stadium will be open by mid-2027 to ensure that it can host test events before the European Championship the following year.