'There is €20m of our money, of public money, being invested in this' - Calls for statment on event centre

Calls are mounting for a public statement from the developers of Cork’s stalled event centre, amid renewed reassurances that the project is still on track.
'There is €20m of our money, of public money, being invested in this' - Calls for statment on event centre

Cllr Mick Finn (Ind) backed the calls from a leading city publican, but went further to demand that councillors be briefed on the timeline for the project, nine months after the Taoiseach turned the sod and almost two years after almost €20m in state aid was sanctioned.

Mr Finn said the city’s elected public representatives, and the public in general, deserve to know what’s going on, what is planned, and more importantly, when it’s planned, given the level of public funding being ploughed into it.

“I know this project is complex, but there is €20m of our money, of public money, being invested in this,” he said.

“It is a big project for Cork, and the longer this drags on, the more doubt creeps in. The public should be informed.”

He has tabled a series of questions on the issue for city council bosses at next Monday’s council meeting.

He will also repeat his calls for a full briefing on the project’s status and proposed timelines by the joint venture partners, BAM Construction and entertainment giants, Live Nation.

He first called for the briefing earlier this year and was told it was likely to happen before the summer. It did not happen.

“We’re now coming into the winter, and still no sign of a briefing. We deserve to be told what’s going on,” he said.

BAM and Live Nation won a competitive bid in December 2014 for €20m of state funding to build the 6,000-seat events centre on the former Beamish and Crawford brewery site on South Main St as part of its €150m Brewery Quarter regeneration of the entire site.

But despite a sod-turning by Taoiseach Enda Kenny last February, work on the events centre’s internal design is ongoing, final detailed costs have yet to be agreed, contracts have yet to be signed, and construction has yet to start.

Demolition started on a portion of the site four weeks ago, but archaeological investigations have yet to take place.

Mr Finn said it was encouraging to see the demolition start.

“But things would want to start moving sooner rather than later,” he said.

The councillor said he fully supports comments from Seán McCarthy, a co-owner of SoHo bar and restaurant who was a leading figure in the Support the Brewery Quarter campaign, who called over the weekend for a public statement on the project’s proposed timeline.

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

The events centre has the potential to do for Cork what the INEC has done for Killarney or the 3Arena has done for Dublin, he said.

Meanwhile, city officials engaged in the event centre process said they always expected the internal design process announced in late August to take at least two months.

However, it is understood that the work did not get underway until mid September.

A council spokesman said they will be seeking an update on the status of that process from the developers towards the end of the week.

BAM Construction was not available for comment yesterday.

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