Belfast Telegraph

Coleraine unveil ambitious plans to redevelop Showgrounds

Colin McKendry
Colin McKendry
Adam McKendry

By Adam McKendry

Coleraine have announced plans to redevelop and regenerate The Showgrounds over the next several years.

The plans will see a new grandstand built, a refurbishment of the current Jack Doherty Grandstand and the laying of a new synthetic playing surface.

The new ideas were presented to supporters last Friday at the side's social club, with pitches made by general manager Stevie McCann, chairman Colin McKendry, manager Oran Kearney and Tim Robinson of GM Design Associates.

The club will be making grant applications to the local council - which so far has been supportive of the plans - Sport NI, the government and other funders.

The club are able to apply for £250,000 from the council, which has to be match funded, while there is believed to be £30m-£40m of DCAL money that could be tapped into through Stormont.

The timescale for all the work is hoped to be five years, however it could be completed faster depending on the funding.

The first portion of the proposed plan would see the current pitch at The Showgrounds ripped up after Coleraine's final home game of the season and replaced by a synthetic surface in time for the new campaign.

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Work has already been done to determine what kind of 4G pitch needs installed.

For it to be ready for next season, the club will have to order a new pitch by January, with a £100,000 deposit needed to be raised by that time. The overall cost of the pitch will be around £450,000-£480,000.

Tommy Whiteside, who helped pioneer the development and laying of the synthetic pitches at Cliftonville, Larne and Crusaders, will come on board to provide his expertise in ensuring the laying of the new pitch happens smoothly and on time.

Refurbishment of the stands would see the current Shed End be replaced by a 2,000 all-seater grandstand, the current Jack Doherty Grandstand extended and the two stands at either end of the pitch redeveloped to be safe standing.

The new grandstand would house offices in its top tier and light engineering units on the bottom, with the capacity able to increase for European games the Bannsiders may be involved in.

Meanwhile, the Jack Doherty Grandstand will be refurbished, which would involve extending the stand and redoing the existing clubhouse to include four changing rooms, a new medical room and a new social club overlooking the pitch.

The final stage would see the training pitch behind the away stand replaced by three small-sided synthetic surface game pitches, which will also include changing facilities, community rooms and a cafe.

The aim of the plans is to cut down costs on hiring facilities elsewhere, while also being able to rent out the pitches for external use, with a potential link-up already mooted with the local Northern Regional College.

A steering group for the project has already been established, consisting of Nevin Oliver, Kyle Alexander, Andy Murphy, Maurice Bradley, McKendry, Adrian McCready, Bill Gamble, Tim Robinson and Ian McClelland.

The club will also consult with experts to ensure the plans comply with Uefa regulations.

With the club ready to begin, the final phase of the planning will see them consult with fans and supporters' groups and establishing a funding strategy, before commencing work the Monday after the end of the season.

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