Page last updated at 09:16 GMT, Wednesday, 20 June 2007 10:16 UK

Research backs city stadium plans

Plans for the Maze prison site
How the Maze site could look if the plans get the go ahead

A new national sports stadium for Northern Ireland should have an urban setting, research commissioned by Belfast City Council suggests.

"Seldom have we experienced such overwhelming evidence for the in-town location," the report states.

The findings go against proposals for a 35,000-seater stadium for soccer, GAA and rugby at the Maze/Long Kesh site.

On Tuesday, the culture minister said he was not satisfied that plans for the Belfast site, were viable.

Edwin Poots said the process could not go on indefinitely.

The Maze/Long Kesh Site was the only site able to accommodate "a potentially viable shared stadium for all the sports involved - soccer, rugby and gaelic games," he said.

However, University of Ulster researchers said six months of intensive academic study indicated that an "in-town" site was best.

"The evidence stems from the worldwide body of knowledge," the researchers said.

"The vast majority of Northern Ireland stakeholders consulted expressed strong support for a city-centre location. The team found little support expressed for an out-of-town location."

The report proposes a stadium for an audience of between 20,000 - 30,000 people.

The best funding model would be on a shared public-private basis, the report states.

'Overwhelming'

Professor of Marketing at UU, David Carson said: "Seldom have we experienced such overwhelming evidence for one dimension, namely the in-town location.

The team who carried out the research include UU experts in the fields of the built environment, economics and marketing, and supported by a network of expert advisers from across the university.

They examined modern UK stadiums, including those at Cardiff Millennium, Hull KC, and Huddersfield Galpharm - for best practice in revenue generation.



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Edwin Poots MLA speaking about the report



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