Casement Park’s eagerly anticipated refurbishment work is said to be starting in 2024, at little to no cost, it has emerged, to the GAA.
The Belfast GAA stadium was closed in 2013, in the mean-time becoming something of an eye-sore in the area as well a stick to beat the GAA with.
After years of struggles, false-dawns and indeed pressure to get its re-build off the ground, however, it now looks as if the GAA have hit the jackpot.
The President of the Irish FA Condrad Kirkwood confirmed in an interview in the Belfast Telegraph on Saturday morning that, on the back of its presence in the bid to host Euro 2028, the UK government are set to finance the lions share of the overhaul works.
“Our government partners assure us Casement Park will start in 2024 and finish within two years,” said Kirkwood.
The re-build is set to cost the UK government in the region of €150 million, with the 34,500-seater stadium projected to be open-for-business by 2028.
Initially, the GAA were set to split the cost of this development with the Northern Irish Football Asssociation so this reprieve, obviously, comes as a huge boost to Croke Park.
“It’s important that we’ve a stadium in Northern Ireland that matches those in other countries,” added Kirkwood.
“Northern Ireland’s inclusion in Euro 2028 is a fundamental part of the bid, as it is a five-nation bid and all five nations must be involved,” he said.
If the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland’s bid to host Euro 2028 is successful – this much we will know in September – then Casement Park will host at least four games in the tournament. Its presence is seen as a necessity because Northern Ireland’s home ground – Windsor Park – is deemed to be small with a capacity of just 12,000.