Consultants ARUP are concluding a study on behalf of the IRFU to identify the most suitable venue to replace Thomond Park.
The racecourse has a lot going for it - excellent location within 10 minutes walk of the city centre, easy access from most other parts of Munster, plus approximately 102 acres of land.
Horse racing in Limerick moved from its original site at Greenpark, which is located on both the Dock and South Circular Roads to Greenmount, Patrickswell six years ago. In the intervening time, a number of houses have been built and there are also plans for a commercial centre. However, there is still ample acreage to cater for the proposed new stadium.
ARUP’s brief was to look at four sites in the greater Limerick area, including the University grounds at Plassey, but it’s believed they have opted for the racecourse as best suited to their requirements.
Access and safe egress to the stadium are of major importance - that’s one of the factors against Thomond Park, where the failure of the Union to do business with householders on the Ballynanty side of the ground also meant that the required extra land could not be acquired. Many believe that the new stadium could still be located within the present boundary but it is quite apparent that this view is not shared by those charged with making the decision.
The racecourse site is rich in sporting, political and religious history - it hosted the visits of President John F. Kennedy and Pope John Paul II.
It remains the property of the Limerick Race Company Ltd, and given the site’s prime location, they will be demanding top dollar for any further portions of the land they sell. However, that shouldn’t prove too great an obstacle for the IRFU, who themselves would expect to be in receipt of a considerable sum for the sale of Thomond Park.
This latest news will not go down at all well with the countless people who believe that Thomond Park can and must remain Limerick’s rugby headquarters. But it is understood the move will proceed.