Munster’s new training home to be developed by the University of Limerick could become a multi-million euro generating sports tourism attraction.
Munster will be the “anchor” tenant in a €9.5m facility that will also include a 25-metre swimming pool.
It will be up and running in July of 2016 in time for next season’s pre-season training programme, with the pool completed six months later, confirmed UL Director of Sport and Recreation Dave Mahedy. As a big tenant, Munster Rugby will enjoy extensive use of the facilities, but Mahedy stressed the self-funding venture would also need to attract further major income. He said the plan was for the facility to pay for itself within 15 years.
“It’s very important to say the usage of this facility goes beyond Munster rugby, we’re building a swimming pool also and that involves a big chunk of the money.
“There is great sports tourism scope, the beauty of what we can offer is that all the facilities are in one spot. Two years ago we had the Special Olympics and the 2000 athletes stayed here. That’s what is developing, the more facilities you have the better. When the World Medical Games were here that they took over the pool. That was fine, but nobody else could get into the pool while they were running their competitions, so the fact that we will have another body of water will help.
“Overall, there is no reason why we cannot attract sporting/football clubs from overseas to use the facilities, we have the accommodation and already this year we had Grenoble rugby staying and training here. That is really something we can develop.”
One way or another, he expects to have the facilities used extensively.
“The pool, for instance, would be used by Munster for recovery but it’s such that our main pool is busy already, over subscribed at times and when we have events we have to close it down for general users. We will now have another body of water and we can also use it as a teaching pool, there’s a big increase in numbers wanting to learn how to swim. It’s as a result of good business that we are stretched.”
The overall plan, to include medical and physiotherapy treatment rooms, offices, audio visual suites, meeting rooms and a 50 seater lecture theatre, has has been in the making for up to four years.
“The sums on it are that we should get our money back over 15 years. You have to break even, firstly on a day to day basis and then start getting money back, we have borrowed against it and we’re confident that over the period we will have everything paid off.
“There is no state money going into this, it’s a business proposition and has to stand alone; the University supports us of course, but we have to wash our face which to date we have done.”
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved