Counting the cost of McHale Park development

“Frightening and scary” is how one well known Mayo GAA personality described the figures presented by the Mayo County Board executive to the delegates at Monday night’s county board meeting. It had been a high pressure day for some of the principal officers, who were summoned to a meeting with Croke Park officials in the Connacht Council offices in Ballyhaunis earlier that day to discuss the financial situation of the development. County board chairman Paddy McNicholas told the meeting that they had to have a plan in place in a fortnight’s time for Croke Park and the banks.

The plain and simple facts of the financial situation are as cut and dried as the many people who find themselves unable to meet mortgage payments because of a loss of income, the money is not there to meet the full obligations right now.

The officers distributed a breakdown of the current situation to the delegates. The headline figure is that the total expenditure to date on the project has been €16,637,103, with another €1,615,285 still outstanding to creditors. Those creditors include legal fees of €140,000, the developers are still owed €1,033,000, and the engineering firm are owed €442,285.

The funding of the project has been secured through a number of sources, including three separate bank loans totalling €6 million, two loans from Croke Park totalling €4.5 million, a grant of €5 million from Croke Park, and the county board’s own current account funding of €1,137,103 which have been pumped into the project.

Where the money is going?

The three bank loans are broken down into a loan of €3 million, €2 million, and €1 million. So far on the largest loan, the county board has made 13 separate monthly interest payments of €6,500.05 to a total of €84,500.65 since October 2010. There have been no principal payments on that loan to date. The bank loan of €2 million has seen the county board make 13 interest payments varying from between €5,145 to €6,669.64 to a total of €75,214.48 to date. They have also made four separate payments between July and October of this year off the principal, totalling €34,062.73 paid down on the €2 million loan. The smallest bank loan of €1 million has had €500,000 paid off the principal, with one interest payment of €22,482.15 being paid on it in October this year. There have also been five bulk interest payments on the bank loans totalling €124,116.54. Bulk interest repayments of the loans from Croke Park totalling €477,763 have been paid from 2005 to date. The total that the county board has paid out in interest payments on the development to date is €784,076.82, with €534,062.73 in principal repayments being made.

The simple fact that a major increase in fundraising had to be undertaken in the county and outside if the county board are to meet their financial obligations was laid out to the delegates. Retiring county secretary Seán Feeney told the meeting that the targets set by the county board in relation to the county board ticket draw, the sale of seats in the stand, and sale of advertising signs fell well short of what had been expected and hoped for. He also confirmed that the board had twice looked for funding from the National Lottery, which was not awarded to them. County board chairman Paddy McNicholas said, “We’ve done the best we can to fundraise, more of this will have to be done and be done more professionally”.

A testing time lies in store for all those associated with the GAA in Mayo as those charged with running of the games in the county try to get their house in order in relation to this project, and still come up with the large amount of money that it costs to run the various county teams and other games throughout Mayo. There was one piece of positive news, with confirmation that Elvery’s was coming on board as naming rights holders for McHale Park, which will now be known as Elvery’s McHale Park, but as to the exact figure that the company will be paying, the meeting was told that Elvery’s didn’t want to release that information.


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