An estimated 200 construction jobs are to be created during the construction of a €10.5 million multi-purpose sports arena at Waterford Institute of Technology.
The ambitious project at Carriganore in Co. Waterford, on the outskirts of Waterford city, is being funded by WIT Campus Services and will comprise of four playing pitches with a conference centre capable of seating 2,000 people which doubles as a 1,000-student seat examination centre, as well as ancillary sports and catering facilities.
Brendan Howlin TD, Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform turned the first sod on Novmeber 15th; a ceremony also attended by Christy Cooney, President of the GAA; Cllr Liam Brazil, Mayor of County Waterford; Dr. Donal Ormonde, Chairman of WIT and Tony McFeely, acting President of WIT.
The new facility compliments the existing WIT Sports Arena built at a capital cost of €8.5 million and is designed to integrate fully with the existing sports pavilion, changing facilities and outdoor pitches which were finished in 2010. The new complex will include an indoor sports arena which can be converted for use as a conference or banqueting centre, concert venue, examination or exhibition centre. An elite athlete gymnasium will also be provided on two levels overlooking the impressive all-weather pitch.
It also includes 6 Individual Lab/Tutor Suites for Performance Analysis and an E-Learning Centre which can accommodate up to 180 people. On completion the arena will be one of the most modern facilities of its kind.
Minister Howlin said he was very pleased to be present at the beginning of a project which has the potential to become a world-class venue and which will showcase hurling, Ireland’s unique contribution to the world of sport.
Minister Howlin stated “I am delighted to be here today to turn the sod on this ambitious sports campus. It is a very good example of co-operation between institutions such as the GAA, WIT and private enterprise which will yield substantial benefits for athletes, students and other young people as well as the community as a whole, while creating a centre of sport excellence in Waterford which can be an example of best practice for the rest of the country. It will also provide substantial jobs for the area with an estimated 200 construction jobs being created during the construction of the sports campus. I congratulate all those involved and wish you well in completing what is a very ambitious and worthwhile project.”
Mayor of County Waterford, Cllr Liam Brazil, welcomed guests to the function and said he was delighted that a facility of this calibre will be located in County Waterford as a facility for the county, the city, the southeast region and indeed, the country as a whole.
“Waterford County Council is fully supportive of this project and we will assist in its successful completion in every way possible,” said Mayor Brazil. “I wish the project every success and look forward to its completion.”
Christy Cooney, President of the Gaelic Athletic Association, said he was gratified to attend this ceremony: "I am delighted to endorse this superb project on behalf of the GAA. Waterford IT has produced a template based on the highest possible standards in their development of this facility, one for others to follow.
The sporting pluses - for Gaelic games in particular - arising from this facility are clear for all to see but the possible knock-on from such an initiative is not restricted to sporting activity alone.
WIT, and indeed this whole region, will benefit from the foresight and ambition that has underpinned a development to match any other on this island," added the GAA President.
Dr. Donal Ormonde, Chairman of the Governing Body of WIT, said “Sport, athletics, physical fitness and general good health have been essential to the proper development of young adults and has also been demonstrated that sport can contribute significantly to improved academic performance,” said Dr. Ormonde.
Sport at WIT has played a very important part in the promotion and development of the Institute.
“The WIT GAA club itself has enjoyed some considerable success too, winning no fewer than eight Fitzgibbon Cup titles since 1992 and also the Ashbourne Cup three years in a row. The completion of this facility will add to the reputation of WIT as the place to study for athletes of all disciplines and will represent a very valuable asset to the infrastructure of the Institute,” said Dr. Ormonde.
Dr. Ormonde also stated “that the conference facilities being provided by phase 2 will be a significant addition to the south east region. Since the closure of the Ard Ri hotel some years ago, we have not had a facility to accommodate major conference. The economic benefits of this project will be hugely significant with a noteworthy jobs boost”.
Dr. Derek O’Byrne, Registrar, WIT, said the project would significantly add to the already extensive range of services available to students of the institute.
“The provision of this complex, allied to the close association we plan to develop with the GAA, will ensure that WIT will be a leader at combining academic and physical education as integral parts of the curriculum. Increasingly employers value skills such as team-work, commitment and personal development. Nowhere are these skills more evident than in sporting achievement. Our elite athletes programme is specifically designed with this in mind. ” added Dr. O’Byrne.
Tony McFeely, Acting President, WIT said “I want to take this opportunity to particularly thank the GAA for their partnership and support of this project to date. I want to especially convey my gratitude to Uachtaran Chumann Luthchleas Gael Críostóir Ó Cuana and his predecessor Nickey Brennan for their foresight in developing such partnerships.” I also want to thank Campus Services for their vision in delivering these top class facilities on behalf of the Institute.
To see a graphic representation of what the new facility will look like when completed, visit