BertieBowl – what you should know before you vote

AS I predicted, the only clear water between Fianna Fail and the opposition parties in the election is Stadium Ireland. Every other policy on health, crime, the environment and whatever is just an impenetrable list of competing claims.

But on the BertieBowl the choice is clear. If you vote Fianna Fail you are in favour of Stadium and Sports Campus Ireland. If you vote for anyone else – you’re not in favour.

So a quick recap on what is on offer. Sports Campus Ireland consists of (and costs) the following (all in millions):

Aquatic Centre………………….£48
Stadium Ireland ………………£320
Arena/Hall/Pitches……………..£78
Sports Science………………….£27
Tennis Centre……………………£16
Golf Academy…………………….£7
Velodrome (Cycling)………….£13
Sports HQ offices …………….£18
On site infrastructure………….£66
Sub Total ……………………..£593

Contingency …………………….£82
Inflation …………………………..£72
Professional Fees ……………..£30
Total Capital Costs ………£777

JP McManus Donation …….-£50
Private Investment …………..-£20
Commercial Rights ………….-£25
Net Capital Costs …………£682

+ Transport Infrastructure ….£22
Total Taxpayer Liability .£704

Fix that figure in your mind – £704 million is the net cost to the taxpayer. These figures are from the High-Point Rendel (HPR) report, the only independent figures you’re going to get on this project.

Now, HPR said that the cost of moving the State Laboratories currently on the Abbotstown site was £171 million. However, they also said that this money would have to be spent anyway to build new facilities, so that the net cost to the BertieBowl project would be nothing.

This is a highly dubious conclusion as they didn’t assess the cost of refurbishing the current buildings. Also they didn’t assess the moving costs. But most of all they didn’t assess the cost of the land.

Is that not bizarre? The value of 500 acres of very saleable land beside the M50 is not taken into account? That’s just ridiculous.

I make the land worth at least £250m. (500 acres at 10 houses/acre at £50,000 per house.) And those are conservative assumptions.

Then there’s the FAI and the IRFU.

The FAI was going to invest some £100 million in a stadium of its own. Instead, the Government gave it £130m to develop soccer and they can keep most of the receipts from games in the BertieBowl.

The IRFU intended to build their own stadium. Depending on who you believe, they are sitting on some £200m in cash and property. And they have the ability to make spectacular sums from the corporate market.

But Fianna Fail want them to move into a stadium for free and, again, keep most of the money they make there.

Meanwhile, over at Croke Park last year only six games had more than 50,000 spectators attending.

This is insanity. This a spectacular misuse of scarce resources.

The alternative to the BertieBowl is to use Croke Park and Lansdowne Road for major events and to spread the resources out across the country and to the communities.

It makes far more sense in terms of the development of the city where all the facilities for visiting supporters are in town and it supports the inner city.

Make no mistake about it – Bertie Ahern is determined to build this stadium. The only way you can stop him is to vote for a party other than Fianna Fail.

Do it.

As Well As That. . .

People talking bull

A LOT of people seem to lose their common wit when it comes to the BertieBowl. Let me take three examples.

1. Bertie Ahern says that people who believe that gaelic, soccer and rugby can be played on two grounds are ‘nitwits’. In fact, that is what he himself is proposing because in the event of Stadium Ireland coming about Lansdowne Road would be sold to develop rugby.

The reason that the surface of Lansdowne Road is so bad for soccer is that it is used by two rugby clubs. Simple, really.

2. A senior spokesman for the IRFU said on national radio that Croke Park was ‘too big’ for rugby. I nearly fell off my seat laughing. If he had checked, he would know that the BertieBowl is being designed for gaelic games and that its surface area is actually bigger than Croke Park.

3. Some clown got up at the GAA Congress and said that he couldn’t see what the GAA would get out of renting Croke Park. Money is the answer. Millions of pounds to be spent promoting hurling and football. In fact, Croke Park already has a renting agreement, with the Leinster Council, who paid almost €900,000 for the use of the ground last year.