People ‘deserve timeline on stalled Cork event centre’

A statement on the future of Cork’s €53m events centre is needed amid growing concerns over the project.
People ‘deserve timeline on stalled Cork event centre’

Seán McCarthy, a co-owner of SoHo bar and restaurant, who helped mount a campaign to secure the events centre on the former Beamish and Crawford brewery site, said the people of Cork deserve to know where they stand.

“Almost two years ago, we were led to believe that we would have a new events centre by December 2017,” Mr McCarthy said.

“It’s almost December 2016. This is a two-year build, and all we’ve seen on site is demolition, which started four weeks ago, with two machines. We’re still no wiser on whether contracts have been signed, has the funding been signed off, or whether we’re going to get an events centre in the city centre.

“We’re being told by Minister Simon Coveney that it is going ahead, that it’s nearly over the line — at least that’s what I’m reading in the papers.

But I’d love somebody from either BAM or Live Nation, or for a joint statement — not just for us, but for the people of Cork City — to let us know where it stands.”

His comments come after October passed without an update on the outcome of a detailed internal design process which was supposed to nail down the final costings.

Construction firm BAM and entertainment giant Live Nation won a complex and protracted competitive tender process in December 2014 for some €20m in state-aid to build the facility on the former brewery site on South Main Street.

The 6,000-seat venue will be a key element of the wider €150m Brewery Quarter regeneration of the site.

But almost two years on from the public funding deal, and almost nine months since Taoiseach Enda Kenny turned the sod, construction has yet to start.

Mr McCarthy, who helped spearhead the Support the Brewery Quarter campaign, said those involved in that campaign are concerned at the ongoing delays.

“We are a little bit disappointed, to put it mildly,” he said.

“We felt the site we were supporting was the correct site for the event centre.

“We lobbied for it, we spoke to politicians, we met with councillors, we met with BAM, we put our best foot forward and felt that this was the right decision — to have it on South Main Street in the city centre.

“But the focus has been taken off it with the development of the Capitol cinema site, and with talks about the development of the former tax office on Sullivan’s Quay.”

He said while the city is beginning to see signs of prosperity, the city needs to see a timeline for the construction of the events centre.

“I’ve seen what the INEC has done for Killarney, and what the Point or O2 has done for Dublin.

“We need a positive announcement or a timeline on the events centre. They should at least let the people of Cork know,” he said.

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