New Casement key to World Cup bid: Ulster Rugby chief Shane Logan
Ulster Rugby Chief Executive Shane Logan has declared a redeveloped Casement Park as imperative to hopes of seeing the world’s best rugby sides such as New Zealand, South Africa, England and Australia play in Northern Ireland.
The home of Antrim GAA is included as part of Ireland’s bid to host the 2023 World Cup despite an ongoing debate surrounding its expansion to a 40,000 all-seater stadium.
A community consultation programme has now reached its second stage and next week will see a series of public events to discuss revised plans, initially blocked by opposition from residents in December of 2014 after the Executive pledged over £60million in funding.
With Ulster’s 18,000 capacity Kingspan Stadium too small to host the heavyweights of the game going head-to-head should Ireland be granted the World
Cup next year, Logan insists everything hinges on current aims to have the new Casement operational by 2019.
“There is a template that goes into the bid as to where games can be played,” he said.
“On the assumption that Casement is up and running, then yes we would be looking at tier one internationals being played. The minimum capacity for a Tier One international is around 30,000. If Casement is that, or above, that opens up an opportunity for us.”
According to Logan, Kingspan would need only minor changes — to the pitch and floodlights — to host games of lesser standing, involving sides like Tonga, Namibia, Georgia and Japan. But Casement would be key to the big hitters playing here, Logan told the Belfast Telegraph after addressing a Stormont all-party Assembly group on rugby yesterday.