The cost of upgrading Irish stadia to the standard required to host the 2023 Rugby World Cup would not be prohibitive, Sports Minister Leo Varadkar insisted last night.
Minister Varadkar also confirmed the government would contribute to the costs of improving the stadia should Ireland get the nod to host the tournament from the International Rugby Board (IRB). He said it would be a joint north-south initiative and that 14 grounds would be required, the majority of them belonging to the GAA which agreed in principle last March to the idea of using its facilities for any bid made by the IRFU. The country’s accommodation and transport capacities were both backed to cater for the expected influx of 377,000 or so extra visitors and Varadkar was similarly bullish about the sporting sector’s bricks and mortar.
“It is difficult to calculate [the final cost] because some works are planned anyway,” he said at the IRB’s first annual conference and exhibition in Dublin.
“Ravenhill, for example, and the RDS and Páirc Uí Chaiomh are among stadiums that are due to be upgraded between now and 2023 anyway. So, it is difficult to see where you draw the line, but assuming they are done then the major infrastructure costs would be the media and corporate facilities in the existing stadiums.
“It is in double figures in terms of millions but it is not prohibitive and certainly not spread over seven years.”
The Minister referenced the last Rugby World Cup, held in New Zealand in 2011, as an example of how a nation similar in size to Ireland and one which relied heavily on some smaller stadia, could successfully host an event of such magnitude. South Africa, France, USA and Australia are other nations understood to be interested in hosting the showpiece in 10 years’ time.
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