The Government could be asked to cough up another €10m in State funding to save the stalled Cork event centre project from collapse, writes Eoin English, Irish Examiner Reporter.
More than two years after the Government sanctioned a €20m funding package to kickstart construction of the proposed 6,000-seat venue, and almost a year after the sod-turning ceremony, Housing Minister Simon Coveney conceded more state funding will be needed before a brick is laid.
“I think this will require an increase in state support, and within reason, that can be forthcoming,” he said.
“I think it does represent value for money to increase the Government’s commitment to the project. But I am not willing to go back to the Government to ask for more money until I have clarity in terms of what the ask is, and independent verification of that.
“It’s my job to advocate for that, but it will be up to the Department of Public Expenditure to go through the value-for-money assessments.”
It is the latest controversy to hit the project which has been dogged by delays.
The news comes just days before the first anniversary of the sod turning ceremony by Taoiseach Enda Kenny on the former Beamish and Crawford site. While some demolition has taken place on-site, building work has yet to start.
The Irish Examiner revealed last August that internal design work had not been completed, and that the arena would not be ready by 2018, as predicted at the sod turning.
This latest setback is likely to push a construction start date back several months.
Following a protracted internal design and subsequent final costings process, the developers of the proposed arena — builders BAM Construction and entertainment giants Live Nation — told Mr Coveney in recent days that more state funding will be required before building work can start.
Mr Coveney confirmed he has received a detailed estimate from the project partners but he refused to be drawn on an exact figure.
However, it is understood the State may be asked to pump up to another €10m into the venture.
Mr Coveney said he had already flagged the issue with Public Expenditure Minister Paschal Donohoe who will make the final decision. He stressed any funding request will be subjected to robust value-for-money appraisal.
Last month, BAM boss Theo Cullinane insisted the company was totally committed to the project which he said had reached a critical stage.
He is due to brief city councillors on the status of the project on February 20.
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