STACEY HEANEY REPORTS
Any alternative stadium kicked into touch
How the new National Stadium at the Maze could
Maze Stadium plan has been given a massive boost after the three
sports involved - GAA, IFA and Ulster Rugby - agreed they would
play there and estimated they could attract over a quarter of a
million spectators each year.
The final piece of the puzzle has been put in place for the
plans for the new 42,500-seater stadium, which could see some of
the biggest sports competitions being held in the new
Despite opposition from some Northern Ireland
football supporters, the final whistle seems to have been blown
on attempts to take the stadium to Belfast after the agreement
of the three sports this week.
The organisations all signed a document
estimating the minimum number of supporters they would hope to
attract there annually providing a massive boost to the plan.
Raymond Kennedy, the president of the Irish
Football Association, said the move made good economic sense.
"We did look at the
business case - the business case stacks up," he said.
"We agreed that we would probably play seven
fixtures - three competitive, two or three friendlies, a Setanta
Cup final maybe and the Irish Cup final."
The plan is for a 42,500-seater stadium for
GAA, whilst there will be the capability of making the stadium
between 25-35,000 for soccer and rugby, in order to keep the
famous atmosphere those sports attract.
Renting the new stadium is expected to cost
the three sporting bodies approximately £lm annually.
To pay for that, the GAA has said it could
bring at least 150,000 spectators to its games.
It believes the new stadium could be used to
stage an All-Ireland quarter final or
National League decider. The IFA said it could attract at least
80,000 fans, while Ulster Rugby estimates it could bring about
40,000 supporters through the turnstiles.
The IFA has said it would play at least six
international matches there per year.
Rugby is also expected to include at least
one Autumn international and all of Ulster's home Heineken Cup