/ Rugby

Ravenhill to have 18,000 capacity by 2014 after £15m funding secured

Updated: Wednesday, 14 Nov 2012 14:59 | Comments

Ravenhill should hold 18,000 by summer 2014
Ravenhill should hold 18,000 by summer 2014

A major redevelopment at the home of Ulster Rugby will get under way later this month after the club secured almost £15million of promised Government funding.

The construction of three new stands at Ravenhill in east Belfast is due to be completed by the summer of 2014.

The revamp will increase capacity at the historic venue from 11,400 to 18,000.

It provides a timely boost for a team on the up. Tickets for Ulster games are currently at a premium, with their unbeaten start to the season leading to frequent sell-outs.

"The new Ravenhill will enhance the position of Ulster Rugby in the world game" - Shane Logan

The work on Ravenhill mirrors similar Stormont Executive-backed redevelopments at the GAA's Casement Park and Windsor Park football stadium, the home Linfield and venue of the Northern Ireland international team.

Culture, Arts and Leisure Minister Caral Ni Chuilin has officially released the £14.7million pledged for Ulster Rugby's plan.

The club is seeking a naming partner for the new-look stadium and new stands will go up at the Memorial and Aquinas ends by next June before the existing main stand is torn down and replaced.

The construction will be carried out in phases to minimise the impact on capacity.

The three new structures will complement the recently-opened Mount Merrion stand and transform Ravenhill, which was opened in 1923, into one of the most modern rugby grounds in Europe.

The new capacity will surpass the threshold required to host a RaboDirect PRO12 Final or a Heineken Cup quarter final.

Ulster Rugby chief executive Shane Logan hailed the redevelopment.

"On behalf of Ulster Rugby, I would like to thank the minister and her department for releasing this funding," he said.

"This investment will create a modern, state-of-the-art stadium with the highest standard of facilities for both supporters and players. The new Ravenhill will enhance the position of Ulster Rugby in the world game and will greatly benefit the development of rugby in the Province."

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