Seven years after a proposed move to a greenfield site came unstuck, Clare GAA is set to lodge plans for an estimated €2.5m refurbishment of its spiritual home, Cusack Park.
At the end of 2007, Clare GAA clubs voted by 61 votes to eight to sell Cusack Park to the Aisling Chiosóg consortium, led by Bernard McNamara, Noel Connellan and Sean Lyne, and move to Doora.
The sale price for Cusack Park was €84.4 million, a fee that would fund a new state-of-the-art stadium, with expanded capacity, a couple of miles away on the Quin Road.
The plan for Cusack Park was to develop it into a major town centre retail development, at a cost of some €350 million.
However, the plans hit a major stumbling block when members of Ennis Town Council rejected re-zoning Cusack Park for a commercial development. It is also believed that Green Party-led recommendations at the time, regarding building on flood plains, would have militated against getting planning permission for the Quin Road site, in any event.
The final nail in the coffin for these plans came with the subsequent downturn in the economy.
There have been calls for some time for renovation work to be carried out at the county grounds and detailed plans of the proposed work and the costings will be presented to a county board meeting before the end of this month.
Replacing the roof on the main stand is considered a priority and permission is being sought for this and for the erection of a roof, complete with camera box accommodation and rear access stairs. Permission is also being sought for the construction of a new toilet block, the demolition of the existing turnstile housing and boundary wall at the southern side of the stadium and the construction of a new turnstile housing and boundary wall.
“When we have detailed plans and costings, we will be making a presentation to the clubs at a county board meeting in the next week or two,” said the CEO of Clare GAA, Pat Fitzgerald.
“The priority is to replace the current roof of the sit-down stand,” Mr Fitzgerald stressed, before adding that the final decision with regard to what work will be carried out will be made by the clubs.
Meanwhile, work is continuing on the centre-of-excellence development at Caherlohan, where two floodlit pitches are ready for use.
The county board is debt-free on the work already carried out on this project.
Sports Editor, Seamus Hayes