Work has begun on the first phase of the long awaited, multi-million euro redevelopment of the Connacht Rugby Sportsground.
Connacht Rugby have said that a full excavation of the pitch at the Sportsground is now underway, to allow a new artificial playing surface for the coming season.
Other works in this first phase of the project will include installing a new LED floodlight system for the pitch.
Meanwhile, Phase 2 of the redevelopment will soon be entering the procurement phase leading to the construction of a state-of-the-art High Performance Centre and the construction of a new North Stand to follow thereafter.
Willie Ruane, CEO of Connacht Rugby, said that this is an historic occasion for the club, one they’ve been working towards for many years, and that “Facilities to match our ambition” has been a key pillar of Connacht’s strategy.
“There are many advantages to an artificial surface, not least that it enables us to remain in The Sportsground as both our training and playing base.”
“The additional capacity that this surface provides will also give boys and girls across the province greater opportunities to play at the home of Connacht Rugby, and act as a beacon that future generations of players and supporters can be proud of.”
Planning permission for the €30 million project was awarded to Connacht Rugby in May of 2019.
The government committed to providing €20 million of that cost the following January, under the Large Scale Sports Infrastructure Fund, and an additional allocation.
Only €10 million was allocated under the LSSIF, the same amount awarded to the RDS, but another €10 million was secured following intervention from multiple parties.
The Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said that this was due to the economic significance of the stadium to the west of Ireland.
“Needless to say The Sportsground holds an emotional attachment for all of us and any change can be difficult,” Willie Ruane said.
“These works however represent a new phase in the life of The Sportsground and one that will secure its future as a fit-for-purpose facility for many years to come.”
He added that the redeveloping the Sportsground is the start of an exciting time for the club, with long term benefits for players and supports alike.
“The new High Performance Centre will give all our squads state-of-the-art facilities that will help them prepare to their fullest potential and to perform at the highest level.”
“The new North Stand will also transform the club in terms of the facilities we can offer our fans and players and in the commercial and financial benefits that accrue with that.”
Willie Ruane finished by thanking the government for the financial support that made this possible, and everyone else who has backed the project.