Euro 2016 Belfast big screen moves to Titanic from City Hall
The Big Screen at Belfast City Hall is set to stay in place for the next three years - but the venue will not host a fanzone for Northern Ireland's historic participation in the Euro 2016 finals.
Instead, the tournament - the first major international competition the Northern Ireland football team has qualified for in 30 years - will be shown on a big screen at Titanic Quarter.
The Irish Football Association (IFA) was in discussions with Belfast City Council late last year over hosting a fanzone at the City Hall. However, a decision was then taken to locate it at Titanic Belfast.
A spokesman for the council said housing the official fanzone at City Hall would have meant closing the grounds at the height of summer. That would impact on one of Belfast's major tourist attractions, and was not considered "practicable or feasible".
Alliance councillor Mervyn Jones told the Belfast Telegraph that he plans to push for the matches to be shown at City Hall even without an official fanzone.
There was a row last September after it emerged Northern Ireland's Euro 2016 qualifying matches would not be shown on the Big Screen.
Mr Jones subsequently called for all of Northern Ireland's Euro 2016 matches at the finals in France to be shown there.
He welcomed matches being shown at Titanic Belfast, but said City Hall shouldn't be disregarded. "City Hall is a lot more convenient for most people," he said.
"Certainly, Titanic is a bigger venue, but I would like to see the matches being shown on the Big Screen at City Hall as well.
"One of the problems last year was that the qualifying matches were on Sky, which would have cost a lot of money to show.
"But all the Euro matches are on terrestrial TV, so I don't see anything to stop them showing the matches there as well. It won't cost anything extra."
Former IFA President Jim Boyce said it was disappointing that the matches will not be shown at City Hall. "It would have been an ideal venue," he said. "However, I am delighted that Northern Ireland fans who can't afford to go, or are unable to go to France to watch the team, will have the opportunity to see them on the screen at Titanic. It would be much worse if they had nowhere to go after what happened last year when fans did not get to see the qualifying matches on the Big Screen."
The fanzone at Titanic Belfast will incorporate a 10,000-capacity open air venue.
Organisers say it will boast the biggest screen in the country and will broadcast all Northern Ireland games live.
It will include full bar facilities, food, entertainment before and after games and various family friendly games and activities.
Entry on all days is free and will start with Northern Ireland's opener against Poland on Sunday, June 12.
A Council spokesman said: "Belfast City Council and the IFA discussed using the grounds of City Hall as the official Belfast Fanzone for the upcoming Euro 2016 Championships, as well as other locations within the city. It was viewed that the best place to locate the fanzone would be Belfast's Titanic Quarter, the same venue as the Belsonic Music Festival."
An Irish FA spokesman said: "The association held some discussions with the council about various potential venues for a fanzone in the city, but it quickly became apparent that Titanic Quarter would be the best venue for such an event."