‘D-day for Cork’ as events centre future hangs in the balance

The future of Cork’s 6,000-seat events centre is hanging by a thread after its joint development partners were given a funding ultimatum.

Joan Burton, Enda Kenny, and BAM's Theo Cullinane turn the sod for the events centre in February 2016.

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”.

“It’s time for BAM and Live Nation to deliver on their promises,” he said.

“My understanding is that a significant and final offer has been made and the developers and operators are considering it.

“High levels of public funding now provide the foundation stone needed for this vital asset for Cork and the region and no further funding will released. Action rather than procrastination is needed.

“This process is now hanging by a thread and I would urge those behind the plans to now deliver as they have historically said they could. The benefits for everybody are huge.”

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.

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