January 19th 2006
IFA urged to delay decision on National Stadium
The Irish Football Association is being urged to delay their decision over whether or not to back a new National Stadium being built at the site of the old Maze prison.
Belfast City Councillor's have appealed to the IFA in the hope that the plans will see the stadium relocated closer to the city.
The government, who already own the site of the former prison, want the 42,000-seater venue to be used for all major football, rugby and GAA events.
Other proposed locations for the site have included Ormeau Park in Belfast and the site of the former Maysfield Leisure Centre, but Sports Minister David Hanson dismissed these last year.
However, developers behind the Ormeau Park proposal remain determined to push ahead with their application despite the obvious attempts to derail it. They remain fully committed to driving this project forward and if council support is received on the 30 January they will immediately submit their planning application.
The Sports Minister has recently stated that there is no alternative plan to the Maze site and if all the sporting bodies do not agree on this area, the plan will be abolished.
Ulster Unionist councillor Bob Stoker, chairman of the council's community and recreation committee, has challenged claims that there was no alternative site.
He said that it is in the best interest for Northern Ireland to view all the options laid on the table.
He said: "The fact is that the council is inviting representatives of the IFA to attend presentations on January 30 on proposals for Ormeau Park and Maysfield."
He added that having looked at examples like Croke Park in Dublin and the Millenium Stadium in Cardiff, it clearly shows that major sporting venues work better in cities.
It is suspected that the IFA will not make their final decision tonight, however a poll conducted on behalf of the IFA Maze sub-committee is believed to have gathered wide support for the project and it is very likely to result in the Football Association agreeing to the Maze site.
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