The design for the concourse of the
proposed multi-sports stadium at the Maze.
MINISTERS in the Executive have been warned
that 10,000 jobs could be at risk if they reject plans for the
redevelopment of the Maze.
A Finance Department document leaked last
month seemed to undermine the proposal by putting the cost of
the sports stadium at £379m.
However, a high level briefing paper prepared
for the Office of the First and Deputy First Minister, which has
been seen by the BBC, warns of the potential cost of doing
Private sector companies were initially
invited to bid for the contract to develop the Maze in December
2006, with bidding open until the end of January 2008, but this
was extended until the end of May.
A preferred developer was selected they were
not named, or informed of the result, as politicians decided
whether to go ahead with the project.
However, it is believed this is the Texas
based Hillwood corporation, which is chaired by the billionaire
The leaked report cautions: "Ministers should
be aware of the implications of allowing the procurement to
lapse without a clear decision or of turning down without full
consideration of more detailed information from the bidder a
potentially viable deal" that might be viewed at a future date
by the NI Audit Office or the Public Accounts Committee as
'offering good value compared with doing nothing or developing
other equally beneficial alternatives'. The preferred bidder is
described as 'a major world-class developer' offering a
'conveyor belt of employment opportunities' from America's top
The document goes to on suggest that the Maze
development 'could result in 10,000 jobs' adding, 'the risk in
refusal is of sending the message that NI is not open for
business, especially so soon after the investment conference'.
Maze is 'best option' for stadium
THE report also says the Maze venue had the
potential to generate significant revenue and was the 'best
option,' with the overall cost to the taxpayer after the first
four years being £37m. This was based on projected figures of
being able to attract 500,000 paying spectators to 23 major
sporting and music events in a year.
The Gaelic Athletic Association, the Irish
Football Association and Ulster Rugby have all confirmed they
would play matches at the 38,500 all-seater stadium.
As well as looking at the refurbishment of
the three bodies' existing venues, the report flagged up the
benefits of a hypothetical stadium at Belfast's north foreshore
but went on to rule it out on the grounds of cost.
'Hypothetically such an option would generate
high visitor spending benefits because it is located closer to
the city centre, but these are outweighed by the capital and
infrastructure costs and the higher value of this site' it says.