â‚¬500m bid to site Bertie's Bowl at Lansdowne Road
LANSDOWNE Road last night emerged as by far the most likely site for a new national sports stadium - if the price is right.
Sports Minister John O'Donoghue will bring proposals on a new stadium to Cabinet, but the price tag is likely to result in reservations from the PDs.
Following yesterday's meeting with the Football Association of Ireland and the Irish Rugby Football Union, Mr O'Donoghue revealed the overall cost of the stadium could be â‚¬515m with the two codes contributing â‚¬118.5m.
The FAI and IRFU yesterday presented a report to the minister which looked at four locations for a new stadium.
Mr O'Donoghue said he would examine the report in detail before bringing proposals to Cabinet.
If the figures are acceptable, the Government will decide on a location - and everything at this stage points to Lansdowne Road.
It is understood that in the costings presented by the consultants, the Ballsbridge venue came in lowest, ahead of Abbotstown.
Mr O'Donoghue is absolutely convinced of the need for a National Stadium.
"It is important that we build a stadium for the people of Ireland, for the IRFU, the FAI and our young people and to take our place in the world in hosting international games," he said.
Feasibility studies were carried out by consultants Ove Arup on four possible options: Lansdowne Road, Newlands Cross, Abbotstown and the former Irish Glass Bottle site in Ringsend.
The minister said the stadium would cost the Exchequer between â‚¬353m and â‚¬397m, with the FAI and IRFU contributing â‚¬118.5m. He said â‚¬71m could be recouped in VAT and a possible extra â‚¬100m through employment and other taxes. A spokesman for Tanaiste Mary Harney last night refused to comment on the report.
However, it is expected a price tag of more than â‚¬500m would be considered too high by the junior coalition partners in the current economic circumstances.
Lansdowne Road has a capacity of 49,000 with 24,000 seated. During international games the FAI are obliged to put in 11,000 temporary seats.
The minister said the FAI was in an "unfeasible situation" as far as hosting internationals was concerned.
International soccer bodies insist matches should be held in all-seater stadiums.
"If the capacity is reduced to 24,000 at Lansdowne Road it would cause immediate financial difficulty for the FAI and for the IRFU," the minister said.
He pointed out that with a 65,000-seater stadium the IRFU could earn â‚¬2m extra per home international.
The minister said suggestions that Croke Park be opened up would not resolve the issue due to over-lapping fixtures, damage to the pitch and the objections of local residents.
It also emerged last night that JP McManus's â‚¬60m donation may still go towards the stadium.
Mr O'Donoghue told Newstalk 106 he would hold talks with Mr McManus about the money.