Belfast Telegraph

Coleraine announce plans for major redevelopment of The Showgrounds

Concept art of the redevelopment of The Showgrounds in Coleraine (GM Design Associates Ltd)
Concept art of the redevelopment of The Showgrounds in Coleraine (GM Design Associates Ltd)
Adam McKendry

By Adam McKendry

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

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

The new ideas were pitched to supporters last Friday at the club'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 to finance the project.

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

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Concept art of the redevelopment of The Showgrounds in Coleraine (GM Design Associates Ltd)

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

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 season.

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Work has already been done to determine what kind of 4G pitch needs installed, with the ambition being that it will be ready for games at the start of next season.

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Concept art of the redevelopment of The Showgrounds in Coleraine (GM Design Associates Ltd)

In order to do so, the club will have to order a new pitch by January, with £100,000 deposit needed to be raised by that time. The overall cost of the pitch will be around £450,000 to £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 refurbished and the two stands at either end of the pitch redeveloped to be safe standing.

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Concept art of the view of The Showgrounds pitch from the new Jack Doherty Grandstand after the proposed redevelopment (GM Design Associates Ltd)

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 redeveloped, 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.

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Concept art of the new Jack Doherty Grandstand at The Showgrounds in Coleraine (GM Design Associates Ltd)

The final stage of the plan 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.

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Concept art of the redevelopment of The Showgrounds in Coleraine (GM Design Associates Ltd)

A steering group for the project has already been established, consisting of Nevin Oliver, Kyle Alexander, Andy Murphy, Maurice Bradley, Colin 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 project in earnest, 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 2019/20 season.

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