The news came yesterday as the Cork County Board released the first artist’s impressions of the revamped stadium set amidst the first phase of the proposed Marina Park — a major Phoenix Park-style public park which was green lighted by Cork City Council last week.
Pre-planning talks are under way and a planning application, including a comprehensive traffic management plan and an environmental impact statement, is expected to be submitted to the local authority by the county board’s project managers, Malachy Walsh and Partners, in October.
Pending the outcome of the planning process, construction is expected to take two years to complete.
The new project will also provide additional jobs in facilities management, hospitality, and games development, the GAA said.
Board chairman Bob Ryan said the stadium revamp and the establishment of a GAA centre of excellence, next to the stadium, will provide Cork City and the region with a wonderful sports, recreation, and community resource.
The integration of the regenerated stadium as a flagship amenity within the proposed 80-acre Marina Park will open up the city’s entire Marina area and add value to sport, tourism and business in Cork, he suggested.
“The primary purpose of the development is to restore Páirc Uí Chaoimh as one of the premier sports stadia in the country and to provide a development worthy of the city and the largest county.
“Marina Park, incorporating the stadium and centre of excellence, will be a major transformational project for Cork.
“It will refurbish the former, near derelict Munster Agricultural Society lands and create a wonderful, new public amenity which will be part funded by the land purchase price,” he said.
“Within Marina Park, Páirc Uí Chaoimh will showcase GAA games, attract more visitors, open up the Marina area, optimise river-based recreation, and create significant community dividend.”
The stadium project will see a complete modernisation of the existing structure to accommodate 45,000 spectators, and will include:
* The redevelopment and roofing of both stands
* the incorporation of new dressing rooms
* the development of a pre-match warm-up area
* new medical facilities, restaurants, meeting and conference rooms
* media facilities and a museum as well as new and additional turnstiles
The stadium’s ‘tunnels’ will be eliminated and new access and egress points for spectators will be created to ensure the stadium will fully meet “accessible to all” criteria for patrons.
The centre of excellence will include a full-size all-weather pitch, new gymnasium, dressing rooms, video, performance assessment and rehab facilities.
The all-weather pitch will be a key element of the centre of excellence for Cork county and development squads and will also be made available for use for local clubs and schools.
A public viewing area with room for 1,000 spectators will be built in to the back of the revamped main stand to overlook the new pitch, which will be floodlit.
Project architects Scott Tallon Walker have designed a facade and included a museum, merchandising shops, kiosks along with catering at the stand’s ground level to ensure the area can be used on non-match days.
The GAA said it hopes the design will ensure the area will become a “lively destination” within the new park.
“The area will be completely open — all the surrounding walls around the Showgrounds will be coming down and paths throughout will mean the park will be very animated,” Mr Ryan said.
He also pledged ongoing dialogue with the local community as the project advances.
“There has been a great deal of misinformation about the project to date which is a pity,” he said.
“It is a very important objective of ours to be good neighbours.
“We want to see local people using the stadium facilities and enjoying the amenities on a continuing basis.”