“It’s the only show in town”

County Board Chairman determined to see Walsh Park revamp delivered
The long-awaited redevelopment of Walsh Park into a 21st Century, 18,000-capacity venue represents ‘the only show in town’ according to the Chairman of Waterford GAA’s County Board.
Speaking to The Munster Express, Paddy Joe Ryan said he’s hopeful that the Board will get planning permission for the revamp and, thereafter, collaborate with the City & County Council and local residents to bring about the revamp.

Field of Redevelopment Dreams: Walsh Park's upgrade is the top priority for Waterford's County Board. 								| Photos: Noel Browne

Field of Redevelopment Dreams: Walsh Park's upgrade is the top priority for Waterford's County Board. | Photos: Noel Browne


“We’d be hoping that in the middle of next year, when we’ve played our Munster Championship games, that we’ll have machinery in to start the work at Walsh Park. But it’s important to state this again – the redevelopment project is something we’ve been working on over the past three years. This hasn’t been an overnight, kneejerk reaction to anything, including the changes to the Munster Championship.”
Paddy Joe Ryan added: “The bottom line is this: we still need a field in Waterford. We’ve spoken to the Munster Council and Central Council about this on many occasions. And the only place in town that they were both interested in developing is Walsh Park because all of our stadiums around the country are based where there are centres of population, where you’ve access to trains and other forms of transport.”
Field of Redevelopment Dreams: Walsh Park's upgrade is the top priority for Waterford's County Board. 								| Photos: Noel Browne

Field of Redevelopment Dreams: Walsh Park's upgrade is the top priority for Waterford's County Board. | Photos: Noel Browne


Regarding the car parking issue which has been cited in recent months by critics of any redevelopment at the Keane’s Road venue, the Chairman stated: “But if you go to Thurles, you could end up parking three miles out the road at the Golf Club – I mean, parking is an issue wherever you go; we all know what Limerick is like, and Páirc Uí Chaoimh of course, parking is always an issue. We only get close to filling Walsh Park twice a year – hopefully we’ll fill it a lot more in the years ahead – but at the end of the day, we’re hoping for a 16,000 to 18,000 stadium, fully concreted, changing the seating in the stand to bucket seats, covering the terrace opposite the stand with a view to making that seated if we want to do it, so we have to look at the pros and cons of everything. We’d be hoping to put new dressing rooms in at the city end, to knock down the current dressing rooms and make all that area a terrace and those are the plans we’re looking at right now but of course it all depends on planning permission and working through with everybody.”

He continued: “We want to have a lovely, compact stadium in Walsh Park which will be a credit to everybody. We don’t need a big stadium – look at how much of the year Limerick and Killarney lie idle – Limerick is shut fully for four months of the year so they don’t have to pay rates.
“You have to build what you need – and what we need is a stadium with a 16,000 to 18,000 capacity, and that’d be plenty when you take a home and away arrangement in Munster, a League semi-final or whatever basis the Munster Championship will be run on in the long term into account.”

Field of Redevelopment Dreams: Walsh Park's upgrade is the top priority for Waterford's County Board. 								| Photos: Noel Browne

Field of Redevelopment Dreams: Walsh Park's upgrade is the top priority for Waterford's County Board. | Photos: Noel Browne

(See print edition 12 December for more)

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