Crusaders FC launches ambitious stadium project

by Pete Hayman | 04 Sep 2008

Crusaders Football Club has identified two sites in Belfast, Northern Ireland, that could house an ambitious joint stadium project.

In partnership with Newington Football Club, the plans for both locations, launched at the end of August, include a shared 4,200-capacity, all-seater stadium as part of a wider community sports development.

Designed by Frank Crowley Architects of Dublin, the new stadium will be located at either Grove Park in north Belfast, or at Lower Valley Park in the Newtownabbey area of the city.

The proposals for the wider sports complex include a 3G training pitch and 10-pitch internal soccer 'dome' for the Grove Park site, while the Lower Valley Park site would include a multi-purpose 3G training pitch available for rugby and GAA use. A 12-screen cineplex with bowling alley, a 60-bedroom hotel and residential sports village is also planned for Lower Valley.

A statement issued by the Crusaders FC and Newington FC Stadium Working Group said: "We were tasked by a unanimous decision of Crusaders' members a year ago to investigate the sale of the club's ground at Seaview and re-invest the proceeds in a way that would secure the club's future.

"In seeking, with Newington FC, to develop a cross community, shared stadium and sports complex, our vision is 'go wider' than football and to develop a mixed sports, educational and leisure development which made sound business sense and attracted a much broader level of community involvement."

The project is expected to cost between £27m and £35m, depending on which site is chosen for the development. Funding will come from a number of sources, including contributions from both clubs, the sale of Crusaders' current ground, and grant aid.

Plans will now go before both Belfast City Council and Newtownabbey Borough Council for consideration. Both proposed locations are in a segregated area of north Belfast, and it is hoped the scheme will act as a flagship for reconciliation and a shared future.

Crusaders' manager, Stephen Baxter, said: "This is an ambitious, visionary project but is grounded in sound financial business acumen. Our vision is founded on two fundamentals. First, all the ingredients for a sound sports and leisure business and second, good community relations."

Crusaders Football Club has identified two sites in Belfast, Northern Ireland, that could house an ambitious joint stadium project. In partnership with Newington Football Club, the plans for both locations, launched at the end of August, include a shared 4,200-capacity, all-seater stadium as part of a wider community sports development. Designed by Frank Crowley Architects of Dublin, the new stadium will be located at either Grove Park in north Belfast,
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