Croke Park to decide if Clare GAA can press ahead with ambitious plans for county grounds
CROKE Park will have the final say on whether the Clare County Board can press ahead with ambitious plans to redevelop Cusack Park to bring the seat of GAA in the county up to modern day standards.
The Clare People has learned that plans for the major upgrading of Cusack Park are now being considered by Croke Park officials – a blueprint for development that would involve a spend of over €2m.
A GAA insider has told the paper that “they’re ambitious plans”, but ones that have been carefully considered and thought out and “represent the best way forward for making Cusack Park a modern stadium into the future”.
It’s understood that the plans, drawn up for the Clare County Board by a team on consultants have been rubberstamped by the Munster Council, with only the final imprimatur of Croke Park now standing between the development being brought to planning stage over the next few months.
“Before you can get any funding for a project on this scale you have to go through all the checks,” a source told The Clare People. “It has gone from Clare to the Munster Council and then the next and final stage is for the plans to get the go ahead from Croke Park.
“Under rule it has to go from county board to Munster Council and then to Croke Park. It is in Croke Park at the moment. What happens is that Croke Park would give the go-ahead for Clare GAA to take out a loan to undertake the project. It will be a big enough job, where you’d be looking at a spend of around €2m,” the source added.
News of the impending green light for the Cusack Park development, which would see a major overhaul, if not a complete retro-fit of the main grandstand that dates from 1980, represents the big move to secure the future of the stadium that will be 80 years old in 2016.
The capacity of Cusack Park once stood at 27,800 but in 2011, the venue’s capacity was reduced to 12,500 on foot of the Slattery Report that highlighted a number of health and safety issues with GAA stadia around the country.
However, since then a number of imrpovement works have been carried by the infrastructure committee of Clare GAA, which has boosted capacity back up to over 14,000.
These works included the replaced of the roof on the covered terrace on the River Fergus side of the field as well as the replacement of perimeter fencing around the playing field.
A key part of the development was also the purchase of 1.8 acres of land at the Stamer Park end of the field for €500,000, which has the potential for the county board to develop its own carparking facilities as well as having additional access to the ground by way of new turnstiles.
It has been suggested that Clare GAA might be interesting in developing the carpark in conjunction with the local authority.