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New stadium plans for Irish cricket

Cricket Ireland is planning the development of a new permanent cricket stadium at the Sport Ireland National Sports Campus in Dublin.

The move is part of a wider strategy to ensure a network of international grounds are in place to deliver on the demands of future international and domestic first-class cricket in Ireland.

Warren Deutrom, chief executive of Cricket Ireland, said:

Cricket in Ireland is entering an exciting new phase, as we begin to understand more and more the implications and obligations of becoming an ICC Full Member.

We anticipate that the new Future Tours Programme [FTP] will be finalised by the ICC in April this year. It is likely to involve the senior men alone playing about 60 home matches over the next five seasons. That number doesn’t include women’s or youth international matches, men’s Inter-Provincial and women’s Super 3’s matches, major club finals or any future fixtures/competitions we might develop or host.

What has become abundantly clear to the Board is that this dramatic increase in our home schedule means that we will need to share the load beyond our four existing international-standard grounds around Ireland (Malahide, Clontarf, Stormont and Bready).

Cricket Ireland recently engaged an external expert to evaluate the existing option of redeveloping Malahide Cricket Ground or else pursuing the development of a new National Cricket Stadium at Abbotstown.

While recognising the short-term drawbacks of relocating to a site without the same quality of public transport links as at Malahide, the expert’s report ultimately found in favour of relocating the primary national stadium development in Dublin to the Sport Ireland National Sports Campus.

The Board’s considerations included:

  • Malahide CC’s location within the sensitive heritage environment of Malahide Castle Demesne and its close proximity to residential housing – with its associated challenges around planning and development as well as expansion in future years;
  • The need for a reasonable balance of international matches at Malahide CC with the right for club members to be able to use their venue for club matches and events;
  • The National Sports Campus’ location on a green field site with space to plan and develop with fewer planning and zoning restrictions;
  • The presence on the National Sports Campus of world-class sports, fitness and training facilities, that would become readily available for cricket players to utilise;
  • The co-location of other CI infrastructure such as CI’s administrative HQ and (under-construction) outdoor training facility to realise operating efficiencies and cost savings.

Deutrom added:

It has been no secret that our initial thinking was based around a re-development and expansion of Malahide Cricket Club. However, the report informed the Board’s deliberations around a number of important issues around venue access and future-proofing.

When we selected Malahide as the location for our main stadium in Dublin a decade ago, Irish cricket was in a very different position with a much smaller fixture list. By achieving Test status and joining the FTP, we’ve had to ask ourselves the tough question of whether that decision is still fit-for-purpose.