IN the first move of its kind by the Irish Greyhound Board, the new greyhound racing stadium in Limerick is following in the footsteps of the Point Depot in Dublin (now the O2) and the Lansdowne Road rugby headquarters (now the Aviva Stadium to be opened later this year) by inviting offers for the naming rights for the new Limerick facility.
Work is progressing well on the new greyhound-racing stadium, which will be officially opened in the latter half of this year. Situated on the site of the old Greenpark Racecourse on the city’s Dock Road and costing nearly €20 million, it is being promoted as one of the finest greyhound stadiums in the world. It will host almost 2,000 races a year and will feature state-of-the-art viewing and restaurant facilities.
In a statement, the Irish Greyhound Board said they are seeking expressions of interest in the naming rights for the new Limerick stadium, which will open in the autumn of 2010.
According to Orla Strumble, head of marketing at the Irish Greyhound Board, the new stadium for Limerick is already creating a buzz around the Mid-West.
“We will work with those who are interested to put together a package that works for both sides. There has not been a value placed on the naming rights as yet. This is something which we will come to as the needs and requirements of potential sponsors are explored,” she said.
Dick O’Sullivan, chairman of the Irish Greyhound Board, confirmed to The Clare Champion this week that the decision to tender for naming rights had to do with the Government’s decision to reduce the contribution to greyhound racing and horse racing.
Asked if they had a figure in mind for the naming rights, the chairman said that at this stage they were just sending out a “sounder”.
“However, we will not give it away too easy and the person will have to be suitable,” the chairman added.
He said that due to the new road structure coming on line, the site for the new Limerick stadium will be one of the best in the country.
Referring to recent widespread flooding all over the country and in the Limerick area, Mr O’Sullivan said that the site for the new stadium was one of the areas not affected in the city.
In July 2007, the IGB chairman said that after many false starts, he was delighted that the greenfield site was purchased. Notwithstanding the historical relevance of the site, he was excited by the location, which should ensure that the facility will be very accessible for everyone in the Mid-West region.
He also stated that he was conscious of the considerable amount of work that Bord na gCon did in the past and said that this hardened his commitment to deliver a world-class track in Limerick.
The opening of the new stadium this year will bring to a close a long and protracted campaign to replace the outdated Markets Field stadium, where racing commenced in 1933.
After growing pressure and criticism of delays in acquiring a site for a new stadium and bringing Limerick in line with other tracks in the country, IGB announced in 2001 that it had purchased a 14 acre site at Greenpark racecourse for a modern new facility.
However, there was a setback later on when an engineer’s report identified specific issues regarding the site levels for development purposes, which would have to be raised and would potentially double the site acquisition cost. It was back to the drawing board and plans were announced to build the stadium at another location, in County Clare at a site just inside the border with Limerick and off the main dual carriageway leading to Shannon. However, there were more delays when it too met difficulties and the IGB was forced to seek an alternative site, before returning to Greenpark.
With the stadium now well on the way, it has created 250 construction jobs and will lead to 100 permanent jobs on opening.