LEINSTER AND THE Royal Dublin Society announced their plan to redevelop the RDS this afternoon by opening an international architecture competition for the design.
Here’s everything you need to know about their early ideas.
What will the capacity be when the redevelopment is complete?
The RDS will be boosted from an 18,000 capacity up to 25,000.
When will work start and finish?
Leinster and the RDS expect that work will get underway by April 2016 at the latest, and finish around September 2017.
What’s actually involved in the redevelopment?
The Anglesea Stand will be completely rebuilt to include additional seating, corporate hospitality areas and media facilities.
On top of that, there will be additional seating added around the existing North, South and Grand stands. Toilets, catering and other match day amenities will also be improved.
Will there be any standing room for the Leinster die-hards?
Leinster chief executive Mick Dawson says he feels “Ulster have too many people standing” in the redeveloped and renamed Kingspan Stadium, but does expect that work in the RDS will include one terrace in the new Anglesea Stand.
“We’re looking in front of the new stand, that there’ll be about 1,500 people on a terrace there,” says Dawson. “Everyone else will be seated.”
How much will it all cost?
The initial budget has been set at €20 million.
And who is paying that €20 million?
“The funding of it is the responsibility of the RDS,” answers RDS chief executive Duffy. “We just have to ensure that the profiling of the funding is satisfactory to the RDS.”
So Leinster will be paying nothing for the right to play in a redeveloped and high-quality stadium? Not so. The province are heading into the eighth season of a 20-year lease of the RDS, which doesn’t come cheaply.
Will the naming rights be sold?
“The naming rights will be part of the whole funding operation,” says Dawson. “Hopefully this press launch will get the message out there that it’s something that’s going to happen.”
Duffy concurs, pointing out that naming rights for the stadium would be “a very attractive proposition” and one that will be an “important part of the mix” in terms of funding.
Would there be a preference for a Dublin-based sponsor or will the RDS and Leinster look internationally?
“It really is very open-ended,” outlines Dawson. “There’s a lot of money involved, so there aren’t really that many iconic brands in Ireland that have that sort of money.
“Naming rights is something that’s a timing issue. Look at the Aviva Stadium, when Aviva were re-branding and it was just the right time for them. Hopefully this message gets out there and people are knocking on the RDS’ door.”
“If someone wants to give you €20 million over 10 years, it would be fantastic, but I’m not sure that’s going to happen!”
How will the stadium be affected during the building process?
With the Anglesea Stand out of action, that means wiping 5,500 off the RDS’ capacity. However, temporary seating on the other three stands will compensate for that, meaning a total net loss of 3,000 to 4,000 during the development.
“We have about 2,500 season ticket holders in the Anglesea Stand,” says Dawson. “The hope would be that we can get some form of temporary seating for them, build around them to a certain extent. There will be a bit of pain, but hopefully we can sell it to them.
Can Leinster regularly fill a 25,000-capacity stadium?
“We often have this philosophical discussion in the office after we go to the Aviva and say ‘Where are those people every other week?’ admits Dawson.
“I think the quality of the seat is important to people and I think we’re a bit short of the quality at the moment between the two 22s, so I believe that the extra supply will create new demand. The onus on us is to make sure the team is competitive. We’re trying to drive this business, which is still a very new business, but I’d be very optimistic.”