Connacht Rugby made a major announcement on Monday (8th October) as they unveiled plans for a redevelopment of the Sportsground that would also see the capacity rise to 12,000.
The project will deliver a modern, fit for purpose rugby stadium in addition to a new high-performance training centre for Connacht Rugby while also retaining existing greyhound racing facilities.
The redevelopment plan has been made possible following an arrangement reached between the Irish Greyhound Board and the freehold owners of the Sportsground, the Galway Agricultural and Sports Society, with respect to a shared vision for the future of the Sportsground.
The announcement comes on the back of a rigorous process to identify the optimum location, composition and design of the proposed new redevelopment in addition to an independent cost benefit analysis.
The development will cost in the region of €30m and will have a capacity of 12,000 spectators. It is intended that the development will be funded through a combination of public funds, most notably through the Large Scale Sports Infrastructure Fund, and private funding.
The arrangement with the Irish Greyhound Board will ensure that rugby fixtures and greyhound racing events will continue to be staged at the venue. The multi-use facility will also be made available for the hosting of other sporting fixtures and events where such demand arises.
“A key pillar of the vision for Connacht Rugby, Grassroots to Green Shirts, is to deliver facilities that match our ambition,” said Connacht Rugby CEO Willie Ruane upon making the announcement.
“The arrangement we have reached with the IGB, paves the way for the delivery of modern fit for purpose facilities to sustain the Sportsground as the home of club and professional rugby in the province.
“The plans for the stadium redevelopment also include a high-performance training centre to provide both our existing professional players as well as our emerging talent access to appropriate facilities to enable them to fulfil their potential and go on to perform at the highest level.
“We have already been in contact with local residents on our plans and will be hosting a full public consultation in the coming weeks. In tandem with the planning process we will be submitting an application under the Government’s Large-Scale Sports Infrastructure Fund.
“Our vision is to ensure that the province has a stadium which future generations of sports stars, supporters and all the people of the West of Ireland can be immensely proud of.”
Facilities to match our ambition. We are delighted to launch our vision for a redeveloped Sportsground.
— Connacht Rugby (@connachtrugby) October 8, 2018
“The proposed development by Connacht Rugby will deliver state of the art facilities in the Sportsground which will greatly enhance the experience of our customers and also benefit dog owners and breeders,” added Ger Dollard, CEO of the Irish Greyhound Board.
“The schedule of greyhound racing activity will be maintained within the new development. The ambition of the IGB continues to be the delivery of a commercially viable, well-regulated greyhound and breeding industry as well as a customer-centred, exciting and value-led entertainment experience.
“The proposed development by Connacht Rugby will make a significant contribution to that overall objective.”
Connacht begin their 2018-19 Challenge Cup campaign when the face Bordeaux Begles on Saturday, 13th October. Kick-off at the Sportsground is 3pm.