Belfast Telegraph

IFA to engage with residents in Windsor Park 'open day'

By Stewart Robson

Residents living close to Windsor Park have been invited to a community event tomorrow.

It comes after complaints from some locals about disruption resulting from events held at the stadium.

The recently revamped 18,000-capacity venue is home to Linfield FC and the Northern Ireland international team.

Last weekend it played host to Carl Frampton's fight with Australian Luke Jackson in the biggest night of boxing Belfast has seen.

While most residents have no objections to the sporting events staged there, they do want more consultation from the Irish Football Association.

In response it has arranged the community engagement event, which includes a free stadium tour and entrance to the George Best suite.

While one elderly resident is looking forward to meeting IFA representatives, she fears it might be too late.

Maud Allen (83), who has lived in Olympia Drive for 56 years, said that the area is now more rundown than ever.

"Football matches never really annoy me but then again I'm living in the middle of a block," she said.

"I pity people that are at end blocks. There's a woman that lives in the end house where a new alleyway is.

"There are hamburger stands there on the match nights, as well as for the boxing last week.

"Everything seemed to go well at the boxing but one of the main problems is for cars.

"At any matches, people can't park at their house."

She watched last week's Frampton fight on TV, and added: "The pictures looked lovely and the stadium is lovely, but if the IFA could just come to our side and see what's at the back of the wall. It's a disgrace.

"It's like living in the dark ages."

Ms Allen said she hoped the engagement effort will help build a better relationship between the IFA and residents.

The IFA said: "The community engagement event, being held in conjunction with Belfast City Council, is offering free tours of the stadium and the Irish FA Education and Heritage Centre (EHC) to local residents.

"Hundreds of leaflets have been circulated in the streets next to the stadium to promote the event. Irish FA staff will be on hand to engage with the residents and talk about the stadium community benefits initiative (SCBI) among other things.

"The SCBI focuses on maximising the potential of the National Football Stadium at Windsor Park to deliver social benefits."

Tomorrow's event is being held from 10am to 2pm.

Belfast Telegraph


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