Richard Hayden in Kildare
Four million euro Hawkfield plan unveiled. Ambitious plans for the development of the Hawkfield training facility were unveiled at the May meeting of the Kildare County Board last Tuesday night in St Conleth’s Park.
The development, which could cost up to €4 million, could start as early as mid summer if given the go-ahead by the local authority.
Clubs have been given two options as to how they wish to part-fund the project.
The new facility will comprise of four pitches, two of which will be sand based, one regular pitch and a synthetic playing field, which is likely to cost in the region of €1 million alone.
The regular pitch, which will be full sized, will be positioned first and this will be beside the first sand based field, which will also be full sized.
The second sand based pitch will follow and will be 80 metres by 130 metres, while fourth in line will be the synthetic playing field measuring 140 metres by 90 metres.
The Kildare County Board has been liaising with Kilkenny native Richard Hayden, who works for the English based company STRI (Sports Turf Research Institute).
Hayden, a construction and drainage consultant for the company, last year worked on the problematic Croke Park playing surface. He has worked on the famed Mount Juliet Golf Course in Kilkenny.
Should the Hawkfield development go ahead, Mr Hayden will be the project manager of the site.
Also included in the plans, which were originally submitted last October, are a gym, two sets of dressing rooms, office space, a hurling wall, a canteen and ample car parking spaces.
There will also be a viewing stand erected with a seated capacity for some 450 spectators.
However, Kildare County Council rejected the initial submission from the County Board and asked them to resubmit the plans to include items such as an environmental report and a new entrance to the facility nearer to Milltown, rather than the Newbridge side.
The Kildare County Board is hoping to get a financial dig out from Leinster Council, whom they have informed that the completed development will be made available for colleges fixtures. It is also hoped to attract some National Lottery funding.
Of course clubs will not get away without playing their part in funding the project. However, they have been guaranteed use of the facility should it be given the green light, on a structured basis.
The County Board has come up with two options for clubs to part-fund the ambitious development, which is an entirely separate project from the new stadium development at Old Connell.
The first of those options is that each club will receive 100 tickets for a draw for €50,000 worth of prizes such as cars and holidays and each ticket will cost €100. The minimum any senior football club will have to sell is 35 tickets, ensuring €3,500 is returned to the County Board, which has a potential profit of €6,500 for the said club. Option one is similar to the method the Offaly County Board currently has in use to pay back loans accrued for the redevelopment of O’Connor Park in Tullamore.
However, in Offaly, clubs are required to sell the €100 tickets based on membership numbers and not the grade they play at.
At intermediate football level clubs will be required to sell a minimum of 30 tickets, which means a return of €3,000 to the County Board and a potential profit of €7,000 for the clubs.
Junior football club will be required to sell 25 tickets at €100 each, which will ensure a return of €2,500 for the County Board and a possible profit of €7,500 for the clubs in questions, while hurling clubs can benefit the most.
They will be required to sell only 15 tickets, returning €1,500 to the Board and can make up to €8,500 for themselves should they sell their remaining 85 tickets.
Option two, which would be less problematic for the County Board, is to levy clubs.
Senior football clubs would have to pay €2,250, intermediate clubs €2,000, junior football clubs €1,750 and hurling clubs.
Delegates at last Tuesday’s County Board meeting were asked to go back to their clubs with the options and report back at the June County Board meeting.
County Board Chairman Syl Merrins told last week’s meeting that the Board must come up with €1 million and will have to borrow a further €1 million.
The pitches alone are expected to cost anything from €2.2 million to €2.5 million but despite the high cost the Chairman insists such a facility is needed in the county to cope with such a population increase.
Counties such as Meath and Louth have completed similar projects and the latter, in Darver, has hugely impressed the Kildare County Board.