Local Independent Councillor, Michael O’Brien, has called on Athlone Municipal District to apply for 2040 urban regeneration funding for the development of a 10,000 seat indoor concert arena in Athlone.
Cllr. O’Brien raised the proposal in a motion tabled at a recent meeting of Athlone Municipal District.
“Around eighteen years ago plans to build an 8,000 seat indoor concert arena in Athlone was refused planning permission. I remember it well and I couldn’t believe it had been refused planning permission at the time.
“I think the development of such a concert arena would be a massive boost to Athlone, surrounding areas, and the midlands. Athlone’s location along the Dublin to Galway motorway is perfect for this kind of development. This is the type of ambitious project that Athlone as the new growth centre for the midlands should be striving towards under the government’s 2040 national plan,” Cllr. O’Brien enthused.
Under Project Ireland 2040, a €2 billion Urban Regeneration and Development Fund has been set aside for sustainable growth in Ireland’s five cities and other large urban centers including Athlone. Funding will be allocated competitively to the best projects, which leverage investment from other sources thereby ensuring that the impact of this investment goes much further. The funds will be open to applications from state agencies, local government, business, educational institutions, chambers of commerce, and others, but the ideal applications will be collaborative efforts.
“Well attended popular music concerts are significant tourism events that create substantial fan interest and economic activity. This has a very positive economic effect in the places where concerts are held. The ability of popular music artists to draw fans who reside outside the region to places where the venues are located means that spending on concert tickets will be accompanied by local expenditures on food, lodging and retail purchases, thus creating loads of extra jobs.
“At the moment, the biggest indoor concert arena is the 3arena in Dublin, with a capacity of over 14,000. Every week some of the biggest names in music play at the this venue. I believe that we can replicate the success of the 3arena if we build a similar arena in Athlone. I think that many people around the country would rather travel to Athlone instead of a congested and expensive Dublin to see their favourite artist play in concert,” the Councillor highlighted.
Cllr. O’Brien emphasised the employment and economic benefits that such a development would have in the Midlands region.
“The benefit for the local economy would be massive. The building jobs at the development stage, the jobs within the arena and the thousands of jobs that would be created and sustained as a result in the demand for local goods and services. It would also be very positive in terms of branding Athlone, with Athlone being attached to all national and internal marketing of concerts,” the Councillor concluded.