Connacht Rugby has revealed plans for a €30-million redevelopment of the Sportsground, which will transform its home into a top-class 12,000-capacity stadium and high-performance training centre.
The province has reached an agreement with co-tenants, the Irish Greyhound Board, and the owners of the land, the Galway Agricultural and Sports Society, to initiate the €30 million redevelopment. It is understood the development will be funded through a combination of public funds, such as the Large Scale Sports Infrastructure Fund, and private funding. The schedule of greyhound racing activity will be maintained within the new development.
The new stadium will include two stands at either side of the ground, with terracing behind each goal. The new main stand will include dressing rooms and corporate hospitality. The new pitch will be an all weather surface. The high performance rugby centre will include an indoor training pitch, along with treatment rooms, a strength and conditioning facility and administration and office space.
CEO of Connacht Rugby, Willie Ruane, says the organisation had "already been in contact with local residents" and will be hosting a full public consultation in the coming weeks. He pointed out that independent economic research carried out in 2016 found Connacht Rugby contributes €34.4 million to the regional economy. "The delivery of this project will increase that contribution and provide a beacon for regional development in the west of Ireland," he said. "Our vision is to ensure the province has a stadium which future generations of sports stars, supporters and all the people of the west of Ireland can be immensely proud of.”
'The announcement of plans for the redevelopment of the Sportsground is a key part of that future success, making this an extremely exciting time for us fans and other potential beneficiaries in the region' - Hildegarde Naughton TD
The news has been welcomed by Fine Gael Galway West TD Hildegarde Naughton. “The venue regularly attracts sell-out crowds and in its current state is simply not capable of providing players or spectators with the facilities and experience that either deserve," she said, "despite recent improvements and Government investment. I am totally committed to doing all I can to make this project a reality. I have already begun working to secure government funding for the plan, and I have organised a briefing in Leinster House on October 17 with a view to gaining the support of other Oireachtas members."
She said the new facility would be made available to other sports organisations, which she described as a “very positive and central aspect” of the proposal. The existing greyhound-racing facilities will also be retained. The Taoiseach will also be meeting Connacht Rugby representatives, and he will be fully briefed on developments.
“The pride and enjoyment that people in the west derive from Connacht Rugby can’t be measured, but there is a tangible economic benefit to the city, county, and wider geographical region,” she explained. “The announcement of plans for the redevelopment of the Sportsground is a key part of that future success, making this an extremely exciting time for us fans and other potential beneficiaries in the region."