Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 20 August 2014

Sports stadium at the Maze was one big white elephant

So the Maze stadium project has been kicked into touch, sent off, abandoned due to a lack of interest!



The leaked government document condemning the Maze was no surprise. It was never a good economic project to begin with, a lack of true widespread appeal coming for all the right reasons, and never at any time addressed the concept of a national sports stadium.

At no stage since 2003 was athletics (track and field) even mentioned by anyone — the Maze site never addressed any other sport than GAA, rugby and football.

The proposed capacity (40,000 to 45,000) was far too large and the site was totally wrong to promote international sport.

The 360 acres of prime government land should be developed for industrial and commercial job creation. (Remember all those new firms promised by our American cousins at last year’s ‘Ulster is open for Business Conference’?)

In November 2005 a sudden leaked government memo stated that ‘the GAA would only sign up to a multi-sports stadium on condition the complex was built at the Maze site’. Why?

And who was the bright spark who suggested a conflict resolution centre be built to ‘complement’ the new Maze stadium? Three points are glaringly obvious:

l International rugby will never be played at Ravenhill — better to improve Ulster’s home ground with two new stands and increase capacity to 18,000-20,000.

l The GAA do not need a new 45,000 seater stadium to accompany their large grounds, both north and south of the border.

l International football urgently needs a new 25,000 all seater stadium in Belfast — IFA please note we are now eight years into the 21st century! And perhaps we could build a running track around this new mini-Wembley?

So what have we achieved since 2003 and £600,000 of consultation fees on this white elephant — nothing. Amazing!

BILL KERR

Newtownards

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