Future of Cork events centre uncertain as City Council awaiting confirmation on funding

The Lord Mayor of Cork has confirmed that Cork City Council has supplied legal advice to the Department of Arts regarding funding of a proposed 6,000-seat events centre.

The future of Cork’s events centre is hanging by a thread after its joint development partners were given a funding ultimatum.

“This legal advice confirms the maximum amount of additional public funding that can be granted without instigating a new procurement process," Councillor Tony Fitzgerald said.

"Cork City Council is awaiting confirmation from the Department of the amount of additional funding, if any, that will be granted to this vital project for Cork” he said.

Cork City Council is also in the process of responding to technical queries from the same Department in relation to its analyses of the potential economic contribution of the planned Events Centre.

Contractors BAM and the venue’s operators, Live Nation, who won a competitive tender in 2014 for a €20m state-aid package, have been told they can only get €10m of the additional €18m state funding they have asked for before the entire tender process is deemed legally invalid.

The details emerged following a meeting in City Hall of key figures involved in the stalled project.

BAM did not respond to requests for comment. It is understood that the company will examine the legal position and has indicated it will respond within three to four weeks.

However, Independent Cllr Mick Finn said this is “D-day for Cork”.

BAM won a competitive bid in December 2014 for €20m in state-aid to kickstart the massive infrastructural project on the former Beamish and Crawford site.

A redesign was ordered by Live Nation last year to make the venue “commercially viable” and costs have soared to close to €73m.

BAM told members of Cork City Council earlier this year that they would need another €18m in state funding to deliver the venue.

Following extensive legal advice on the extra funding request, city officials said no more than €10m in additional state funding can be sanctioned before the original competitive tender process is deemed invalid.

A political decision on the additional funding is still awaited.

Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney insisted last week that he does not want the tender process to start again.

Additional reporting by Eoin English.

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