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Last Updated: Wednesday, 30 March, 2005, 17:33 GMT 18:33 UK
Maze site 'approved' for stadium
How the Maze site could look under the new proposals
How the Maze site could look under the new proposals
The former Maze prison site in County Antrim is the only viable location for a new 55m sports stadium in Northern Ireland, the government has decided.

Finance Minister Ian Pearson has said he intends to put the design of the 365-acre site out to tender.

The two other shortlisted sites for the multi-sport stadium were the Titanic Quarter and the North Foreshore of Belfast Lough.

However, both proposals were deemed to be too expensive.

Last month, the cross-party Maze Consultation Panel agreed unanimous recommendations for the development of the site.

Investment

As well as a 30,000 seat arena for soccer, rugby and GAA, the panel passed proposals for an International Centre for Conflict Transformation, a zone for industrial development, an arts centre and an international equestrian centre.

The panel believes the development could lead to 1bn of public and private investment.

In his first detailed response to the panel's report, Mr Pearson has asked for tenders from teams of designers, developers and planners. He wants proposals for the site to be handed in by the autumn.

"These projects will potentially be of transforming benefit to the community, but they will also require a major investment of taxpayers' money," he said.

"We therefore have to ensure value for money, and also encourage the private sector to invest significantly in the rest of the site."

The minister has also confirmed talks are under way with the Royal Ulster Agricultural Society about a possible move from their current base in south Belfast to the new site.




BBC NEWS: VIDEO AND AUDIO
BBC NI's Gareth Gordon:
"The panel believes the development could lead to 1bn of public and private investment"



SEE ALSO:
Stadium proposal for former jail
25 Feb 05 |  Northern Ireland
Maze could become leisure mecca
23 Feb 05 |  Northern Ireland
Three contenders for NI stadium
20 Jan 05 |  Northern Ireland
NI stadium 'needs support'
24 May 04 |  Northern Ireland


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