AAA Councillor wants ‘hardline’ approach on Cork's event centre

A councillor has called on Cork City Council to adopt a more “hardline approach” towards the developers of Cork’s stalled event centre.

AAA Councillor wants ‘hardline’ approach on Cork's event centre

Cllr Fiona Ryan (AAA) made her comments following confirmation on Monday that senior executives of BAM will brief city officials and councillors on the status of the €53m project next month — three weeks later than had been hoped.

Last October, councillors expressed hope that the meeting would take place by the end of this month, given the scale of public investment in the scheme.

However, council chief executive Ann Doherty told councillors during Monday’s council meeting that agreement has now been reached for the long-awaited briefing to take place on February 20.

Councillors want the developers to give them a detailed update on the status of the project earmarked for the former Beamish and Crawford site on South Main St.

The project has been dogged by delays and uncertainty since €20m in state aid for the development was sanctioned over two years ago. Taoiseach Enda Kenny turned the sod on the project in February 2016.

However, apart from some minor demolition and some archaeological investigation, construction work has yet to start.

The Irish Examiner revealed last week that detailed internal designs have only been finalised in recent weeks.

BAM publicly stated their commitment to the project and that the scheme has now reached a critical point.

BAM chief executive Theo Cullinane said a series of reviews are set to take place over the coming weeks to resolve the outcome of the detailed design process.

While most councillors welcomed news that a date has been set for the briefing, Cllr Ryan criticised what she described as the council’s “deferential attitude” towards the private developers. She said the time has come for the council to adopt a hardline approach in a bid to ensure the project is delivered.

The internal design, prepared by a team of consultants has been prepared by a team led by Populous and Charcoal Blue, global leaders in arena, stadia and event centre design, shows how the proposed 6,000-seat venue could become one of the most flexible standalone venues in the world.

Following input from the venue operators, Live Nation, the centre has been designed to be configured in more than a dozen modes to host:

  • Large music concerts, either fully-seated or with a mix of standing and seating;
  • Large West End-style shows with an orchestra pit;
  • Tennis, basketball tournaments and boxing matches;
  • Skating shows on a full-sized ice-rink;
  • Banquets, seminars, and trade shows.

However, given that talks on the budget are ongoing, and that major archaeological works have yet to take place, several councillors said they have concerns that construction work may not get underway this year.

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