The government minister who has pledged to deliver a multimillion-euro events centre for Cork has urged people to be patient amid growing concerns over the apparent lack of progress on the project.
Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney said he hoped to see “significant progress” within days on protracted commercial negotiations linked to the huge building project earmarked for a key city centre site.
And he insisted that the process is not in difficulty and that the events centre will be delivered.
“I always said the event centre [construction] would get up and running by the autumn and I maintain that that’s going to be the case.
“I know everyone is impatient. But there is a lot of work going on at the moment outside of the public eye.”
Concerns have been raised at the apparent lack of progress on the project since a €20m taxpayer funded kickstart package was agreed last December.
The Government has pledged €12m with Cork City Council providing the balance to get the project off the ground.
BAM, who are engaged in a joint venture with Heineken Ireland to develop the event centre as part of the €150m Brewery Quarter regeneration of the former Beamish and Crawford site on South Main St, won the competitive tender for the kickstart funding after lining up entertainment giant Live Nation to operate the proposed venue.
However, despite protracted negotiations, which included getting sanction from the EU for the state aid, construction has yet to start nine months since the public funding deal was agreed.
Mr Coveney said both BAM and Live Nation were seeking to get the best deal possible out of the venture.
“It is what I expected — robust and difficult commercial discussions — but I think there will be an outcome that’s positive.
“There are very few projects in the country that are getting €20m of public money.
“People need to show a little bit of patience to let the commercial negotiations conclude and if they do, I think we’ll see this project start in the next couple of months.”
Heineken Ireland has also moved to address unconfirmed rumours that it is no longer involved in the process.
A spokesperson confirmed that the brewing company still owned the site.
“Heineken is continuing to support BAM in their efforts to bring the event centre to Cork,” she said.
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