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Andy Marlin/INPHO Gaelic Park in New York.
# ambitious plans
Former Tipperary hurler spearheading multi-million dollar New York GAA project
Ian Conroy is a member of the Irish Cultural Centre Development Committee in the Big Apple and he has big plans.

NEW YORK GAA may finally have a place to call home if ambitious plans formulated by former Tipperary hurler Ian Conroy and his colleagues get the green light.

Unlike their counterparts in Boston, Chicago and San Francisco, New York GAA does not have a home of its own, as Gaelic Park in The Bronx is rented from Manhattan College, who now hold the long-term lease.

But Conroy has come up with a plan to change all of that. It won’t come cheap but The42 has seen the costings involved and they stack up.

It’s an ambitious plan put together by the Irish Cultural Centre Development Committee, formed by Conroy, John Ryan, Barry Walsh and Owen Cummins, who are all involved at different levels in the youth programme within New York GAA.

Their primary goal is to acquire and develop a site on which to construct playing fields and a state of the art facility for the promotion of Gaelic Games and Irish Culture.

General view of Gaelic Park before the game Andy Marlin / INPHO New York GAA's current 'home' is Gaelic Park. Andy Marlin / INPHO / INPHO

A 22-acre Hilltop site located at 1 Bradhurst Drive in Yonkers has been identified, accessible and convenient for the vast majority of the Irish and Irish-American community in the Greater New York Area.

Initial feasibility studies show the potential for 4 GAA playing fields, a 25,000 square foot multi-use facility, 500 car parking spaces, children’s playground, 6 dressing rooms adjacent to the fields, a basketball court, concession stand, swimming pool and hurling walls over the course of the multiphase project.

New York GAA would then have first call on all playing hours on the fields owned in the facility.

The greatest issue facing the GAA in New York and indeed the whole of the tri-state area is the lack of playing facilities and GAA fields.

Andy Marlin / INPHO Andy Marlin / INPHO / INPHO

There are currently 2,500 active playing members for the GAA in the Greater New York areas but existing facilities are stretched to breaking point.

The Irish Cultural Centre Development Committee has insisted, however, that New York GAA would not necessarily have to leave Gaelic Park if this project goes ahead.

“Everyone recognises the historical significance of Gaelic Park,” the ICCDC brochure reads.

“The future of Gaelic Park can only be decided by the officers and members of New York GAA.”

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It is envisaged that the facility would be governed by a board of directors, similar to Gaelic Park in Chicago.

The New York team Andy Marlin / INPHO New York hosted Galway in the Connacht SFC in May. Andy Marlin / INPHO / INPHO

Assuming that an agreement can be reached for acquisition of the property from current owners, the project could take 10-15 years to complete on a multiphase basis.

The Phase 1 development plan comes with a high cost, however, estimated at almost $12m.

In plans seen by The42, it is hoped that the Tara Centre Irish heritage group will donate $2m, with $2m coming from Croke Park.

Andy Marlin / INPHO Andy Marlin / INPHO / INPHO

The Irish Government is also pencilled in for a $1m donation, with the remainder of the monies needed coming from senior club board membership in New York, individual donors and pledges and corporate sponsors, among others.

Projected income exceeds costs by approximately $4.5m, which includes a construction loan from Hudson Valley Bank.

Further capital projects in phase 2, such as the construction of two more playing fields, could yield another $500,000 per annum, to help meet estimated annual loan repayments in excess of $600,000.

Conroy is a successful New York based businessman who was a former teammate of Nicky English with UCC and Tipperary before moving to New York in the mid-1980s.

He now owns and runs a chain of pub-restaurants in the Big Apple.

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