Posted on Wednesday 14 November 2012 by Ulster Business

0007 Night shot entrance

Construction work will start next week on the £14.7m redevelopment of the Ravenhill Rugby Grounds, Ulster Rugby confirmed today.

Construction work on the new stadium will begin on November 26 and will be complete by the summer of 2014.

Three new stands will be built at the ground in a phased approach that will see capacity rise from 11,400 to 18,000. With the increased number of spectators that the new-look ground will be able to hold, Ravenhill will be capable of hosting a RaboDirect PRO12 Final or a Heineken Cup Quarter Final.

The first phase of the redevelopment will run from November 2012 until June 2013 and will see new stands built at both the Memorial and Aquinas ends of the ground.

Ulster Rugby has appointed Northern Ireland based general building contractor, Gilbert-Ash NI Ltd., to carry out the construction work.

Ulster Rugby Chief Executive, Shane Logan, said the development represented "a seismic shift" for rugby in the province and would have both social and economic benefits.

"This investment will create a modern, state-of-the-art stadium with the highest standard of facilities for both supporters and players. The new Ravenhill will enhance the position of Ulster Rugby in the world game and will greatly benefit the development of rugby in the Province," he said.

Ulster Rugby is seeking a naming partner for the new stadium and said that it is in discussion with a number of interested parties.

Almost £15m of funding for the project was secured from the Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure.

Sports Minister Carál Ní Chuilín said:"This is a great day for Ulster Rugby which will secure their future in this part of Belfast and contribute to their continued success. With the final capital funding now awarded, the real transformation of Ravenhill will begin through the construction contract.

"This project is the first of the three stadium projects to reach this stage and work will shortly start on site bringing a range of sporting, economic, social, health and educational benefits to the sports and wider community. The stadium will be completed by September 2014 when Ulster Rugby will have a world class stadium, with the wider benefits being enjoyed for many years to come."

In March 2011, the NI Executive made an indicative award of public funding for the development of three sports stadia on the existing Ravenhill, Windsor and Casement Park sites.

One hundred and ten million pounds is being made available from the public sector towards the projects within the current spending period.

The redevelopment of Windsor Park will cost up to £29.2m. Plans are being drawn up currently and these will be submitted for planning permission before the end of this year to allow the redevelopment to be completed by June 2015.

Casement Park will be rebuilt with a contribution of £61.4m from the NI Executive through DCAL and £15m from the GAA. The application for planning permission will be submitted in February 2013 with work due to be completed by September 2015.

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