How Walsh Park is set to look after redevelopment work is completed.
The long awaited announcement of Government funding for the redevelopment of Walsh Park finally came to pass this week with Junior Minister John Halligan informing County Secretary Pat Flynn on Friday that his (Mr. Halligan’s) ministerial colleague Shane Ross had sanctioned the allocation of approx. €3.8 million to the proposed project.
County Secretary Pat Flynn expressed his delight at the news as did County Board Chairman Sean Michael O’Regan.
Speaking to the Waterford News & Star, recently appointed County Board Chairman Sean Michael O’Regan welcomed the funding, which will cover at least half of the stadium’s redevelopment budget.
“This process began back in April 2018, we submitted a planning application a year later so to have reached this point so early in the New Year is great news for Waterford GAA,” he said.
“And we’re now moving onto the next stage of the process, which will involve us sitting down with both Croke Park and the Munster Council to help advance the next phase of the overall development.”
It’s hoped that the Board, with State funding now behind it, will be able to successfully make a case to the GAA hierarchy with a view to securing the remaining monies – at least €3 million – required to redevelop the ground as a 16,500 capacity venue.
Talks on that element of the plan have been, according to Mr O’Regan, “very favourable up to now and we don’t see that changing”. At present, the Board does not intend to impose “a serious levy” on the county’s clubs as a result of the stadium project.
Pat Flynn said that the long awaited announcement now opens the door to commence talks with Croke Park and Munster Council officials regarding further funding for the project, something they have already committed to pending the announcement of the government contribution from the Large Scale Sport Infrastructure Fund. It is expected that those talks will take place immediately on receipt of official notification of the allocation of funding.
Walsh Park was looking in brilliant condition ahead of last summer’s first Munster SHC matches at the venue since 1996. Munster Championship hurling will return to the Keane’s Road venue this summer before works will begin on the redevelopment.
2020 MUNSTER SHC GAMES TO GO AHEAD
County Board officials have stressed that this year’s Munster Minor and Senior Hurling Championship games against Cork and Tipperary will proceed in Walsh Park as already fixed and that it would be hoped that with every thing in place work would commence with a view to having the redevelopment completed in time for the 2021 season if possible.
Previous estimates for the completion of the redevelopment, which would see the construction of a new covered terrace at the Keanes Road end, a new uncovered seated stand in place of the northern terrace, new dressing rooms and toilet blocks at the Ard na Greine end as well as new facilities in the present stand were given as at €7.2 to €7.5 million. While the County Board will be hoping to maximise the contributions from Croke Park and Munster Council in the course of upcoming talks it is understood that the County Board will have to pick up a shortfall in total funding for the project and in that regard the Board will be working to minimise any burden on the clubs through extensive fundraising.
As things now stand, following the assurances of funding all uncertainty has been removed and it is all about going forward and providing Waterford with a stadium to be proud of and that will meet future requirements. See main paper for more and the thoughts of Co. Board Chairman, Sean Michael O’Regan.