The Government has allocated Connacht Rugby €10 million in funding under the Large-Scale Sports Infrastructure Fund — Fine Gael TD for Galway West Hildegarde Naughton, who is a season-ticket holder at the Sportsground, had campaigned for the grant funding and brought Leo Varadkar to the grounds last year to see the plans for the 12,000-capacity stadium.
Deputy Naughton welcomed this morning’s official announcement and said she was pleased that her efforts on behalf of Connacht Rugby had paid off. The Galway West TD also said that the project represented an economic boost for the entire region.
“As a regular at Connacht matches, I’ve been aware for some time of the need to provide facilities at the Sportsground that are worthy of the team’s outstanding performances on the field in recent seasons,” she said.
“There has been considerable government investment at the ground, but it’s simply not capable of providing players or spectators with the facilities and experience that either deserve, in spite of recent improvements.”
Deputy Naughton brought Leo Varadkar to the Sportsground last May to examine Connacht Rugby’s plans for the redevelopment of the stadium. She also lobbied Sports Minister Shane Ross and Minister of State Brendan Griffin in relation to the large-scale sports capital grant.
“I’m very pleased to have been able to play a role in securing this funding and am working with the Taoiseach to secure further significant funds for Connacht Rugby. The project will result in both sporting and economic benefits for the city and county,” she said.
“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.
“Connacht Rugby employs 130 people itself, making it a sizeable employer. But the economic spin-off is huge, and the team’s future success on the field will be shared by businesses and individuals throughout the area,” explained Deputy Naughton.
“Today’s announcement that the redevelopment of the Sportsground can proceed is a key part of that future success, making this an extremely exciting time for us fans and other potential beneficiaries in the region.”
The announcement follows a rigorous process to identify the optimum location, composition and design of the proposed stadium, along with a detailed independent cost-benefit analysis.
Deputy Naughton said that she will continue to assist Connacht Rugby in any way that she can in order to progress the ambitious plans.