Tom Maher/INPHO A general view of the RDS.
looking ahead
Leinster CEO confident funding available for €50 million RDS redevelopment
Shane Nolan hopes this plan will go ahead in the not-too-distant future.

LEINSTER CEO Shane Nolan said yesterday he is confident that the necessary funding is available to get the redevelopment of the RDS Arena up and running in the not-too-distant future.

In one of the final acts of his predecessor Mick Dawson, Leinster Rugby agreed a new 25-year lease last October that will see them using the Ballsbridge venue as their home ground until 2047.

In the time that the eastern province have been playing at the RDS — they played their first game there against Cardiff Blues in October 2005, before making it their official home ground two years later — the idea of redeveloping the stadium has been heavily mooted. Back in July 2014, an ambitious plan to increase the capacity of the ground from 18,500 to 25,000 was first announced.

A planning application was then submitted for a €26m redevelopment of the RDS in 2016, only for it to be subsequently put on hold in 2018 as Leinster awaited to hear if their application for Government funding as part of a major sports capital programme had been successful.

While €40m funding had been secured by 2021, the overall cost of the project had effectively doubled to almost €50m by this point.

Yet Nolan insisted there is steady progress with the planned redevelopment and while he didn’t give a timeline for when it might be completed, there does appear to be some light at the end of the tunnel.

“The funds are there to make it happen. Things are moving in terms of money is actually being spent now with the design plans and all the stuff we need to do before building work happens. It’s all kicking off, which is good,” Nolan remarked at a media briefing in UCD.

“The funds are there. It’s just a case of going through the boring bit around plans and tenders, dates and project plans. All that boring stuff. That’s all happening now. It’s all systems go. I think we should have something really exciting in the next couple of months to show.”

However, when asked if planning might have to be looked again because of rising building costs — or if government grants could be increased if it was required — Nolan added:

“I don’t know the exact detail on that. At Wednesday’s meeting [their latest monthly sit down with the RDS], they’ll go through a bit more on the project planning that day. It will go out to tender again and that will have to be tender based and the prices will come back in. Based on what that comes in as, it might take some of the finer details [to iron it out], but the overall budget is there.

“We’ll have to see in terms of can we get every bell and whistle we want or do we have to compromise in certain areas, or we might have to change some things as well. That’s the detail of the next few months.”

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