The Government is preparing in the coming weeks to formally underwrite €320m to host the Rugby World Cup in Ireland in 2023, the Irish Examiner has learnt.
Officials involved are increasingly confident Ireland stands a strong chance of beating France, Italy, and South Africa to host the tournament, as preparations are finalised for an application next month.
Money being guaranteed for the bid includes €120m to host the tournament, while another €200m will be underwritten for operational costs, including redeveloping stadiums and policing.
The Cabinet discussed and agreed to underwrite the costs at its last summer meeting in July, where Sports Minister Shane Ross received approval to proceed with Ireland’s formal bid.
Applications for bids from the four competing countries for 2023 must be submitted by September.
The formal letter from Government to guarantee the €320m must be submitted by September 1 to the World Rugby Council, the body overseeing the selection process for the 20-nation tournament.
Expenditure for the tournament will be 85% guaranteed by Dublin and 15% by the North’s administration.
However, Government sources say they expect that most of the funds will be recouped from the tournament.
Furthermore, large portions of the money will not need to be paid up front. Of the €120m to host the tournament, the bid would see just 5% of those funds expected to be paid in advance while the remainder of the tournament fee could be paid after 2023, say Government sources.
An oversight body for the all-island bid includes chairman and former Tánaiste, Dick Spring, Ireland and Leinster rugby legend Brian O’Driscoll, and Irish Rugby Football Union chief executive Philip Browne.
The 12 stadiums proposed for the competition bid, including a number of GAA venues, have now been finalised as part of the formal application.
These include Croke Park, the Aviva stadium and the RDS in Dublin; Casement Park and Kingspan Stadium in Belfast; Pairc Uí Chaoimh in Cork; Thomond Park, Limerick; Fitzgerald Stadium, Killarney; Pearse Stadium, Galway; McHale Park in Castlebar; Nowlan Park, Kilkenny; and Celtic Park in Derry.
The operational costs for redeveloping some of these venues and bringing them up to standards and sizes for the tournament is estimated to cost in the region of €60m.
It is understood Taoiseach Enda Kenny wants ministers across departments to help a promotional campaign for the Rugby World Cup bid, with nations who may have a vote for the competition hosts, after the formal application is lodged next month.
“It’s really a gigantic story for Ireland’s economy and will greatly improve our profile. We really feel we have a great chance of winning this and the prospect of putting Ireland on the map,” said a Government source.
While the €320m is being guaranteed, very little will come out of current spending. Judging on host applications will begin in June 2017 and a winner announced that November.
[timgcap=Páirc Uí Chaoimh, Cork. Picture: Diarmuid Greene/Sportsfile]zzzPaircUIChaoimh070816_large.jpg[/timg]
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