Waterford GAA have released their first artists impressions for the new Walsh Park, as part of their 10-year plan, launched last night.
The county’s board’s 10 year plan, entitled ‘Waterford Rising’, includes sections on the development of coaching, clubs, competition structures, marketing and communications, and commercial income.
Facilities is a key point as part of the plan, with the redevelopment of Walsh Park a key pillar., with Michael Walsh of the Strategic Review Group saying that the board is ‘determined’ to develop the facility to be “the best of its kind over the coming years on a phased basis and to make it a showcase for Waterford GAA.”
This time last year, then Minister of State John Halligan announced almost €3.8 million of government funding would be provided to the €7 million project, to upgrade the venue under the Large Scale Sport Infrastructure Fund.
The project will see the capacity of the ground increased to 16,000, which the county board were hoping to be complete by May of last year – however as of yet, no work has begun.
Financing the project was a recurring theme of last night’s discussions, with the announcement following news this week that the GAA has recorded record losses of €34 million, and the white rebel elephant that is the recent Páirc Uí Chaoimh development, costing the taxpayer €30 million, and leaving Cork GAA with a debt of around €30 million.
However, speaking last night, Waterford GAA Chairperson Seán Michael O’Regan says he’s ‘extremely confident’ that the stadium can be delivered on a ‘phased basis’
“We have a very good project oversight team in place. The time scale – obviously nothing is going to happen in 2021, everybody is aware of that. Our target is to use this year to finalise our plans, finalise our discussions with all of our key stakeholders, see the financial side of things – to bring it all together in a phased basis.
“This is nothing like a development of a Páirc Uí Chaoimh or those stadiums, it will be modest but at the same time for us it’s hugely important. It’s going to happen possibly over a four to five year target. We’d start hopefully in 2022 and maybe three or four years after that we might get it completed.
“The main thing for us is to get this started. I think if the stadium wasn’t started in two or three years would be a huge disappointment, and a huge fail.”
You can hear the full interview with O’Regan and further details of the plan on this week’s SportsBeat Xtra.