The Ulster Council of the Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA) has been given the go-ahead to build a new stadium at Casement Park in Belfast, Northern Ireland.
The new 34,578 capacity Casement Park Stadium will be built on the existing stadium site in the city.
The development also involves the provision of bar/restaurant and ancillary kitchen areas, conference, training, community and cultural heritage and education facilities.
There will also be ancillary offices, player accommodation and welfare facilities, press/media and broadcast facilities, replacement floodlighting and a stadium/event management suite.
It is intended that the stadium will be used for up to three outdoor music concerts in any calendar year.
Infrastructure minister Nichola Mallon said:
Today marks a significant step in the redevelopment of Casement Park. The Ulster Council of the GAA can now move forward with their ambitious plans for the regeneration of the stadium.
I recognise the impacts on residential amenity from the proposed development but ultimately I had to weigh such impacts with the social and economic benefits that would result from the completion of this project and I truly believe that the Casement Park stadium will be successful.
The new stadium is of high-quality design and will become a renowned landmark building which will provide a further catalyst for regeneration of the Andersonstown Road and an economic boost to West Belfast in general. This stadium will boost sports tourism and the economy in the North. Jobs during the construction phase and additional jobs for the daily management are to be welcomed.
This decision represents a significant boost for our economy, our community and sports across Ulster and across our island.
Chairperson of the Casement Park Stadium Development Project Board, Tom Daly, hopes that GAA matches will return to the Belfast venue by the second half of 2023. He said:
We would visualise it being a two year construction period. So, with a fair wind, we could see games taking place in that stadium in the latter half of 2023.
Daly believes that a redeveloped Casement Park will have a very positive impact in a variety of ways that will be felt for decades to come. He added:
First of all there’s a universal feeling of satisfaction throughout Ulster that something that has been so much a part of the strategic plan of the Ulster Council and with a big Antrim involvement, but also fitting into the national strategic plan of at least one major stadium of modern standard in each province, is now closer to being achieved.
It will mean an awful lot to people in Belfast and Antrim, particularly GAA people, because Casement Park has been historically very important to them and they haven’t had it available to them for a protracted period of time. I suppose it’s really a field of dreams for young people in Antrim and Ulster.