Sligo Rovers have unveiled plans for a multi-million Euro redevelopment of the Showgrounds stadium with the creation of an academy hub for the north-west region of the Irish Republic.
A newly released Masterplan presents infrastructural design proposals for the future of Rovers both at its home in the Showgrounds and a potential academy site.
There is also a detailed analysis of the economic, social and financial impact that the proposed development could have on the club, the county and beyond, as well as the footballing impact.
The plan has been endorsed by Sligo County Council and the Football Association of Ireland.
The redeveloped Showgrounds would have a seated capacity of 6,000, surpassing all the requirements of a UEFA Category 3 stadium.
It includes the retention of the existing Tracey Avenue Stand and Railway End Stand, with alterations to both, the construction of a new stand at the Church Hill Road End and a new stand in place of the current Jinks Avenue Stand.
New floodlights, turnstiles, hospitality spaces, shops, corporate and sponsors facilities, offices, meeting rooms, upgraded media facilities, multiple changing rooms and a gym would be part of the redevelopment.
The Showgrounds pitch would be extended and the playing surface changed to a hybrid pitch, an innovation that comprises 95% natural grass and delivers more playing time.
The total cost of the overall project as compiled by Rhatigan Architects is €17.3million.
A provisional agreement with Sligo Rugby to facilitate games in the redeveloped Showgrounds has been reached, with the club keen to open up the facilities for community.
The Masterplan reflects the club’s ambition to expand, as well as trying to maximise the potential of the north-west area to develop more local and international footballers.
Through this development, and the growth of commercial areas of the football club, Sligo Rovers said it aims to greatly enhance the opportunities for future generations of young male and female footballers and increase employment in the football industry in Ireland.
The Masterplan defines the direction of Sligo Rovers as a community owned club and is centrally focused on enhancing the match day experience for fans.
Outside of matchday, a pavilion and plaza area outside of the Showgrounds would include space for cafes, restaurants, meeting space and business units.
The club is actively seeking land within the Sligo area for the development of a home for the expanding Sligo Rovers academy.
FAI chief executive Jonathan Hill said:
We talk a lot about football in the community, not just here in Ireland but across the globe, and Sligo Rovers are standard bearers in this regard.
I am delighted to see the range of this Development Plan which reflects the club’s standing in the Sligo community in a fitting manner. Such development is a cornerstone of our vision for the future of all our League of Ireland clubs. Well done to all involved with this project.