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Ulster Council will open new venue for range of occasions

By Declan Bogue

WITH a new stadium on the way designed by the same company responsible for the breathtaking swoops of the Aviva Stadium and the vastness of The Emirates (Mott MacDonald), Ulster Council secretary Dr Danny Murphy has declared himself delighted with the comfort and ease fans will have in the new venue.

The view that spectators have is rated on what is known as 'The C-Scale', with 60 deemed perfectly acceptable. The bulk of seats in the new stadium will be C-70, the optimum viewing rating, with a lot in the maximum category that is C-90.

"That means you have absolutely no restriction. You can see the sideline from any seat that has a C-90 classification. No impediment to your view of the game," enthused Dr Murphy.

Another huge encouragement at the announcement of Government approval of the new Casement Park came in with Murphy's belief that the venue will not be exclusively the domain of the big occasions, but will have the gates open for a range of GAA activities.

"We want to see the stadium utilised, once it's built," he added. "There is no point building it and just playing major games there.

"We want to play primary school games, underage games, ordinary run-of-the-mill games in Antrim as well as Antrim playing McKenna Cup and National League games.

"All of those would still be there and on top of that we would have the major games that we would have to facilitate."

Despite the good news, Murphy still feels that something was lost when the prospect of a multi-sports stadium disappeared.

"We were a major supporter of the multi-sports stadium. We feel that a multi-sports stadium would have been a huge statement for Ulster; rugby, soccer and ourselves would have all supported the development of a multi-sports stadium.

"It didn't happen and the money that was provided for the stadium then was re-assessed by the Northern Ireland Executive and determined that the three stadia would be built to our strategic need."

He also reminded those in opposition to the redevelopment of Casement Park, that it was an outside body that felt the capacity should have been much greater than what will actually materialise.

"Believe it or not, in the outlying business case that was carried out by the Government, the case actually gave us the opportunity to build a stadium of 42,500 capacity because that was their determination of our strategic need," revealed Murphy.

"We opted to take it down to 40,000 because we felt that 42,500 was going to be a tight fit for the site.

After our discussions with residents and others, about a year ago we decided that 38,000 was more appropriate."

The tantalising prospect of a 'rapid-transport-system' being constructed in Belfast, which would go past Casement Park is also hugely encouraging to fostering different means of transport to matches," he added.

"If and when that is built, and we would hope that it would be done sooner rather than later, it would actually hugely enhance the stadium because the route is actually going to go past."

He is not ruling out a 'park and ride' system in the medium-term either.

"Basically, that is something that would be something on our minds," he concluded.

Belfast Telegraph

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