(As published in the “Evening Echo”, Friday 12 Feb 2010)
By CONOR GEORGE
LEEVALE Athletic Club are behind the drive to build Ireland’s first dedicated indoor athletics arena in Cork.
Plans are already well underway to make their ambition a reality, and it is hoped to have the estimated €55m arena built and operational within two years.
According to Leevale secretary Donal Murnane the Cork club have already raised €1.25m for the project and are currently in active negotiations with both CIT and UCC to build the arena in conjunction with one of them.
“We have all the costs, drawings and plans already in place,” explained Mr Murnane. “What’s next is for a site to be chosen and that will depend on which party we opt to go with.
“We are in active negotiations with both third level institutions and are anxious to work in tandem with one of them.
“We have spoken to the Government bodies necessary as well as Athletics Ireland and the Cork City Council and everyone is in favour of this happening. All that remains is for a site to be chosen and then planning permission received and we can move ahead.
“We are then hopeful of receiving a government grant to meet the projected cost of the project and are confident of being successful in that endeavour,” he added.
At present the only dedicated indoor athletics arena in Ireland is in Nenagh but that is an obsolete venue with the Irish National Indoor Championships taking place in Belfast in recent years.
“We see Cork then becoming the home of athletics in Ireland for the winter at least. Ireland desperately needs an arena like this,” Mr Murnane added.
Leevale Athletic Club hope to announce a partnership with one of the Universities in the near future.
If Leevale pair with CIT then the arena will be built within the CIT complex in Bishopstown while the Farm in Curraheen would be the venue for a project done in partnership with UCC.
• For more see page 11. of Cork Sports World. (Article available here.)