UCC has unveiled plans to develop a massive sports park on the western fringes of Cork City as part of an ambitious four-year sports strategy.
The new sports campus has been earmarked for development on part of an eight-acre UCC-owned landbank at Curraheen, next to the Munster Agricultural Society showgrounds site.
The new park will replace UCC’s nearby Farm facilities by Curraheen Park greyhound stadium on the northern side of the Ballincollig bypass as the university’s main training destination.
UCC’s director of sport, Morgan Buckley, said the existing outdoor sports facilities are under extreme pressure, with the Mardyke pitches in use up to 200 times a year, which has resulted in the university having to rent facilities for some squad training sessions.
Mr Buckley said given that UCC will lose two pitches from the Farm when work starts later this year on a new science park and dental school, there is now an urgent need for new facilities.
Initial discussions have taken place with Cork City Council, under whose jurisdiction the Curraheen site will fall following the city boundary extension in June.
A feasibility study is nearing completion, but detailed planning and design of the new sports park has yet to be completed.
It is hoped that a planning application could be lodged before the end of the year, that will include up to nine pitches — a mix of artificial and hybrid grass pitches — along with a pavilion, dressing rooms and a gym.
It will be designed to cater for UCC’s 15 GAA teams, nine hockey teams, 11 soccer teams and five rugby teams.
The costs have yet to be finalised, but the investment will be substantial — one of the university’s single biggest investments in sports infrastructure since the Mardyke Arena was developed in 2003.
“This ambitious strategy is dedicated to unlocking the power of sport and physical activity across all areas of participation, representation and achievement,” Mr Buckley said.
The sports strategy also includes proposals for a new ‘Sport for Life Club - Many Tribes-One Team’ club, to connect players, volunteers, sponsors, supporters and alumni, as well as a new #ActiveUCC sports participation programme, an annual UCC Sport Hall of Fame Day, and the development of a new line of UCC Sport branded sportswear.
Details of the project will be launched at UCC this morning. Guests include Olympian Paul O’Donovan and Mary Fitzgerald, who won three gold medals at the 2019 IWAS World Games.
UCC has one of the highest rates of student participation in sports among Irish universities, with a combined membership of over 4,000 students in sports clubs.
UCC completed the first Sigerson-Fitzgibbon cup double in 31 years at the weekend, and earlier this year, beat UL to take the Collingwood Cup for the 14th time. It has also extended its partnership with Cork City FC.
UCC’s deputy president, John O’Halloran, said: “Sport is in our bones and pride is on our chest at UCC and we are proud to be part of such a rich sporting heritage.”