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Last Updated: Thursday, 21 June 2007, 12:29 GMT 13:29 UK
Coe's NI Olympic matches pledge
Up to three qualifying soccer matches for the 2012 Olympics could be played in NI if the national stadium is ready.

Sports Minister Edwin Poots, DUP, said he had received assurances from Seb Coe, chairman of the London games organising committee.

Mr Poots has set a deadline of the end of this month for alternative proposals to a 60-acre development on the site of the former Maze prison, near Belfast.

The minister has said that he remains to be convinced of any alternative.

"Currently the outline business case is close to a completion and working towards a full business case for October of this year," said Mr Poots.

"The full business case has to be able to demonstrate that there's no resource implications, that the stadium can actually pay for itself."

The minister made the comments at a meeting of the Northern Ireland Assembly's culture committee.

Plan includes a new 55m multi-sports stadium
The stadium will house rugby, soccer and Gaelic

Belfast City Council has launched a counter bid to the 35,000-seater Maze arena, which the authorities for football, Gaelic and rugby have all signed up to.

The venue will also include conference and concert space as well as hotels and restaurants.

The number of private bidders for a role in the multimillion-pound development is being narrowed down to three.

Vice-chairman David McNarry from the Ulster Unionist Party said Lord Coe's commitment was welcome.

"Having six teams and their staff and fans coming here is a key step and a real incentive," he said.


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