After getting the go-ahead to build a new main stand at the county grounds, Westmeath’s county board chairman Sean Sheridan is confident it will be completed within two years.
“Best case scenario is we’re open in time for the 2016 championship, hopefully with a first game against Dublin!” Sean Sheridan said yesterday.
He was reacting to the news that, a month after getting the outline permission from the planning department, no objections had been received within the four weeks allotted for such submissions, meaning the county board now had full planning permission for the €3.5m project.
Mr Sheridan reiterated his stand from last year when applying, by confirming that “no money would be sought from Westmeath clubs”, and that the entire 10-month project would be funded by a €2.2m low-interest rate loan from the GAA’s central council, as well as sport capital grants from both the State and the Leinster Council.
The plan will see the demolition of the present roof, press box, and bench seating, as well as the construction of new changing rooms, a new first-floor for meeting rooms, and offices. There will also be a new lift, pitch access tunnels and toilets constructed.
The new stand will see an addition of just 500 seats, bringing the ground’s capacity to 11,500, but more importantly, it will double the number of patrons under cover to 3,000 at the 80-year-old ground which will limit the unstructured congregating of patrons at the back of the present stand when it rains.
The ground originally had a 15,000 capacity, but this was reduced to 14,000 after its 1992 facelift, and again to 11,000 after a health and safety review by the GAA three years ago.
This is quite a bit down on the 2007 Tiger-fantasy proposal that sought to build a 28,000-seater stadium in Robinstown.