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Casement and Ravenhill to get an impressive facelift

By Frank Brownlow

The GAA’s Casement Park will be re-built as a 40,000 capacity venue — 80 per cent in the form of covered seating — with the help of £61.4million of government funding.

The GAA are receiving approximately the same government funding as football — which will re-develop Windsor Park as well as other venues — the committee for Culture, Arts and Leisure were told at Stormont yesterday.

Casement Park currently has a 32,600 capacity.

The capacity of Ravenhill, meanwhile, will rise by over 3,000 to 15,000 with the help of government funding for Ulster Rugby to the tune of £14.7m.

Part of Ravenhill has already been re-developed and the money will be used for work on the remainder of the stadium.

The money going to football will be split into two packages — £36m and £25m, the latter for the re-development of Windsor Park into an 18,000 capacity all-seater stadium.

The ground’s current capacity is 13,500 with temporary seating sometimes used to cram in extra fans.

There is sure to be much interest in how the £36m is divided up.

The committee for Culture, Arts and Leisure were told by the Irish Football Association yesterday that a national centre of excellence and a regional centre of excellence had been earmarked, with some of the money also being used to re-develop several local stadiums.

IFA Chief Executive Patrick Nelson said that most of the recipients would be Premier League venues, although some intermediate clubs could also benefit.

Chairman of the IFA Executive Board Dr Leslie Caul told the committee that there was now very much an onus on clubs to provide facilities that enable them to generate revenue away from match days.

Dr Caul said: “Clubs will become very community oriented in that their facilities will have to be used all week and not just on a Saturday which will raise revenue.

“Facilities must be used for their maximum benefit.”

A time-scale of approximately five years has been mooted for all the government-backed improvements.

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