Casement Park
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Casement Park

Casement Park
Páirc Mhic Easmainn
Roger Casement Park - geograph.org.uk - 443980.jpg
Main Stand
Casement Park is located in Greater Belfast
Casement Park
Casement Park
Location within Greater Belfast
Full nameRoger Casement Park
Address88-104 Anderstonstown Road, Belfast, County Antrim, BT11 9AN
LocationNorthern Ireland
Coordinates54°34?23.93?N 5°59?2.38?W / 54.5733139°N 5.9839944°W / 54.5733139; -5.9839944Coordinates: 54°34?23.93?N 5°59?2.38?W / 54.5733139°N 5.9839944°W / 54.5733139; -5.9839944
Public transitBalmoral railway station
OwnerAntrim GAA
Capacity31,661 (40,000 after redevelopment)
Field size145 x 90 m
Construction
Opened1953
Renovated2000
2014-20
Pitch and terracing at Casement Park

Casement Park (Irish: Páirc Mhic Asmaint) is the principal Gaelic games stadium in Belfast, Northern Ireland, and serves as the home ground of the Antrim football and hurling teams. It is located in Andersonstown Road in the west of the city, and named after the republican revolutionary Sir Roger Casement (1864-1916). As of 2015 it had an official capacity of 32,282, with safety certification for 31,661, including 6,962 seated.[1] It is currently closed and in a state of dereliction, with redevelopment plans pending now for several years.[2]

History

Casement Park, one of the largest stadia in Ulster, opened in June 1953, with Armagh Harps defeating St John's of Antrim in the final of the inaugural Ulster Senior Club Football Championship.[3] The newly opened Casement Park hosted the Ulster Championship final less than a month later, which saw Armagh overcome reigning All-Ireland champions Cavan.

The ground's location in a republican neighbourhood saw incidents during the Troubles which contributed to unionist perception of the Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA) as pro-republican. Rallies against the introduction of internment were held on 12 September 1971[4] and 19 March 1972.[5] It was occupied by the British Army from Operation Motorman on 31 July 1972[6] until October 1973.[7]Provisional IRA members displayed weapons at a rally there in August 1979.[8] In March 1988, two Army corporals who drove into a republican funeral cortège were interrogated in Casement Park before being shot on nearby waste ground.[9] Anniversaries of the 1981 hunger strike were marked by rallies at the stadium in 2001 and 2006, against the wishes of the GAA Central Council.[10]

In all, Casement Park has hosted eight Ulster football finals. However, the Antrim ground has not held the provincial showpiece since 1971, with St. Tiernach's Park in Clones hosting the final every year since except between 2004 and 2006 when it was moved to Croke Park such was the demand for tickets. A major facelift of the stadium took place in 2000, a move which saw more championship games played at Casement Park. In 2006, floodlights were added which allowed hurling and football to be played in the evening. On 14 November 2016 Casement Park was officially included as part of Ireland's 2023 Rugby World Cup bid, which in 2017 lost to France.

Redevelopment

In 2006, proposals were raised to build a new multi-purpose stadium on the site of the old Maze prison near Lisburn, which was intended to host association football, rugby union and Gaelic games. However, opposition to the idea led to it being dropped in favour of a new venue in the Sydenham area of East Belfast. This led to Ulster GAA, which was one of the partners in the Maze project, to pull out in favour of remaining at Casement Park.[11]

Plans to redevelop Casement Park were announced in 2009, though it was not until 2011 that the Northern Ireland Executive announced that it had granted £138m for various stadium redevelopment projects throughout Northern Ireland, of which Ulster GAA would receive £61.4m to be used to redevelop Casement Park into a 40,000 all-seated stadium. A further £15 million was proposed from the Central Council of the Gaelic Athletic Association. If the plans had been approved, the venue would become the largest stadium in Ulster.[12] In early 2012 it was announced that the redevelopment work would start at the end of 2013 with a view to having the new stadium open by September 2015. It was expected that, after its completion, Ulster GAA would move its headquarters from St Tiernach's Park in Clones to the redeveloped Casement Park.[13][14]

Local residents of West Belfast objected to the proposal and in September 2013 the Mooreland and Owenvarragh Residents Association (MORA) issued a formal petition and letter of objection to the Northern Ireland Department of Environment, describing the new stadium plans "a monstrosity" and too expansive.[15] The residents filed a lawsuit as the date for the commencement of construction continued to be delayed. In December 2014 the High Court ruled a ministerial decision granting planning approval for the redevelopment of the stadium was unlawful, setting the proposal back further.[16] Ulster GAA responded with disappointment to the decision, though vowed to re-submit an improved design. They did so in October 2016, unveiling a smaller scale project with a reduced capacity of 34,500.[17] This design was unable to achieve planning approval permission, as Northern Ireland's power-sharing government was dissolved in March 2017. This delay saw the anticipated total cost of the project blow out to approximately £110 million.[18]

Antrim's 14 point "home" loss to Tyrone in the 2019 Ulster Senior Football Championship quarter-final in Armagh highlighted the run-down status of the Casement Park pitch and grandstands.[19] The GAA stated it was hopeful of receiving planning permission for the redevelopment in mid-Spring 2020.[20] This eventually came in October 2020 when Minister for Infrastructure Nichola Mallon recommended planning approval.[21] The stadium is currently scheduled to open in summer 2023 but the project still faces funding uncertainties.[22]

See also

References

  1. ^ Southern, Carl (2 July 2015). "Inquiry into Issues around Emergency Exiting Plans, including their Impact on Stadium Capacity, for the Redeveloped Casement Park Stadium: Mr Ciarán McGurk and Mr Carl Southern" (PDF). Committee for Culture, Arts and Leisure. Northern Ireland Assembly. p. 12. Retrieved 2018. Additionally, the OBC was informed by the multi-agency review of April 2009 that further informed the safety certificate revisions in 2010. That was in the context of the existing ground and a current safety certificate for circa 31,000 -- there was a slight adjustment from 32,000 down to approximately 31,500 at that time.; "AQW 1178/11". AIMS Portal. Northern Ireland Assembly. 18 October 2010. Retrieved 2018.
  2. ^ "Drone footage of abandoned Casement Park is an embarrassment to the GAA". Sports Joe. Sports Joe. Retrieved 2019.
  3. ^ "If you don't like the football, there's always Celtic under the stand!". Gaelic Life. 16 May 2008.
  4. ^ "The Past Two Weeks". Fortnight (24): 16. 1971. JSTOR 25543703.
  5. ^ "The Past Three Weeks". Fortnight (37): 11-14. 1972. JSTOR 25544024.
  6. ^ Beaves, Harry (2018). Down Among the Weeds. Troubador. p. 73. ISBN 9781788037532.
  7. ^ "The Past Two Weeks". Fortnight (69): 14-15 : 15. 1973. JSTOR 25544715.
  8. ^ Coogan, Tim Pat (2002). The IRA. Palgrave Macmillan. p. 444. ISBN 9780312294168. Retrieved 2018.
  9. ^ "Army corporals killed at IRA funeral". History - Troubles. BBC. Retrieved 2018.
  10. ^ Mendlowitz, Andy (2007). Ireland's Professional Amateurs: A Sports Season at Its Purest. iUniverse. p. 105. ISBN 9780595899869. Retrieved 2018.; "Mystery over 'GAA fine' for hunger strike rally at Casement". The Irish News. 10 September 2001., cited in "Sectarianism And Sport In Northern Ireland" (PDF). Research Paper 26/01. Northern Ireland Assembly. 10 October 2001. p. 9: §5 "Media reports relating to sectarianism and sport". Retrieved 2018.
  11. ^ Plans for £128m Belfast stadium unveiled - The Independent, 25 March 2009
  12. ^ Stadiums fit for our heroes on way at last - Belfast Telegraph, 11 March 2011
  13. ^ Ulster Council rubber-stamps Casement Park stadium move - BBC News, 17 February 2012
  14. ^ McCrory, Marie Louise (4 September 2012). "Dream team for stadium redesign". The Irish News.
  15. ^ "Residents challenge GAA's Casement Park redevelopment". BBC News. 12 September 2013.
  16. ^ "Casement Park: Judge quashes GAA stadium approval decision". BBC News. 18 December 2014.
  17. ^ "Casement Park: GAA unveils fresh plan for west Belfast stadium". BBC News. 24 October 2016.
  18. ^ "Ulster GAA committed to '£110m' Casement Park upgrade". RTE News. 8 March 2019.
  19. ^ Browne, PJ (26 May 2019). "Mickey Harte Gets It Spot On About Plight Of Antrim GAA". Archived from the original on 27 May 2019.
  20. ^ "Casement Park: GAA hopes for planning permission in spring". BBC News. 15 January 2020.
  21. ^ "Decision to recommend planning approval for 34,000-seater stadium at Casement Park announced". The 42. 13 October 2020. Retrieved 2020.
  22. ^ "Casement Park: What is the future for Belfast's GAA home?". BBC News. 19 October 2020. Retrieved 2020.

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