Major progress on the redevelopment of the Ravenhill Rugby ground was made today as the Sports Minister formally approved the remaining £13.9million funding to Ulster Rugby, which will bring the total funding to £14.7million.
This has allowed Ulster Rugby to appoint their Main Contractor. Construction work will soon begin on the site. Ulster Rugby has also released a flythrough of the design for the re-development which shows the vision of the newly redeveloped stadium.
Carál Ní Chuilín said:
“This is a great day for Ulster Rugby which will secure their future in this part of Belfast and contribute to their continued success. With the final capital funding now awarded, the real transformation of Ravenhill will begin through the construction contract.
“This project is the first of the three stadium projects to reach this stage and work will shortly start on site bringing a range of sporting, economic, social, health and educational benefits to the sports and wider community. The stadium will be completed by September 2014 when Ulster Rugby will have a world class stadium, with the wider benefits being enjoyed for many years to come.
“For Ulster rugby fans this investment will mean an increase in capacity from around 12,000 up to18,000 seats. It will be a more inclusive and family friendly sports ground with the added bonus of giving Ravenhill sufficient capacity to host a PRO12 final or Heineken Cup quarter-final match.”
Focusing on the social and economic benefits of the stadium the Minister said:
“Stadium development is not just about benefits to sport. It is also about embedding social contracts into our processes. I have ensured that stadium development will bring benefits to the communities where they are located –especially for people who are living in disadvantaged areas.”
“As the construction work begins, the wider community will also see benefits in employment, particularly for long term unemployed and young people who will have the opportunity of much needed work and apprenticeships in the building industry.
“As the Ulster Rugby team continue to enjoy success in the PRO12 and Heineken Cup, I have no doubt that today’s investment will contribute to a bright and long-term future here in Ravenhill.
“Ravenhill’s roaring rugby fans will soon have the stadium they deserve.”