ONE YEAR AFTER an acrimonious dispute forced it to close for four months, Shelbourne Park is getting a facelift.
The Ringsend stadium is to be prioritised for an upgrade as part of new five-year strategic plan for the greyhound sector.
The Irish Greyhound Board (IGB) thinks the 90-year-old venue has major earning potential within the capital. It is understood the upgrade will place a stronger focus on the corporate and tourist markets.
The IGB recently acknowledged that Shelbourne Park is competing with the Aviva Stadium and Croke Park but it was not at that standard yet.
Revenues for 2017 are expected by the IGB to be disappointing as Shelbourne Park was closed for 22 weeks last year due to a dispute over the sale of Harold’s Cross. That €23 million sale is yet to be finalised but is in the final stages.
Last year the Dublin Greyhound Owners & Breeders Association (DGOBA) along with the Irish Greyhound Owners and Breeders Federation voiced that they were unhappy about the stewardship of the sport, which has seen attendances more than half since 2007.
Members of DGOBA picketed the venue and all racing was suspended.
The investment of €3 million is a cumulative figure over five years which the report recognised is contingent on financial targets being met.
Management within the semi-state company believe the sale of Harold’s Cross has presented a “golden opportunity” for reinvestment across a range of areas as the legacy debt of around €20 million will be cleared.
Gerard Dollard, the CEO of the IGB, said the improvements were necessary.
“The strongest economic growth is in Dublin which also has the greatest disposable income. Other tracks and areas will receive investment but Shelbourne as the flagship stadium in the IGB portfolio, has to be a priority.
“There has been no significant investment at Shelbourne since 2002 and facilities are badly in need of upgrading to meet the needs and expectations of the modern-day consumer.
“Technology enhancements, upgrade of facilities, track improvements and other proposals that will refresh and modernise the offering are all up for consideration.”
“This is not a rebuilding of Shelbourne Park greyhound stadium but more a revamp of current facilities. All projects will have to be carefully planned so as to minimise any disruption to racing schedules.”
The forthcoming investment plan from the IGB will require government approval before any surplus from Harold’s Cross can be used and the semi-state will have to adhere to a strict public spending code and capital investment appraisal process.
Written by Paul Hosford and posted on TheJournal.ie