Cricket Ireland have shelved plans for a permanent cricket stadium in Malahide and instead have decided to develop a new venue at the Sport Ireland National Sport Campus in Dublin.
The association, who recently secured test status and full membership of the International Cricket Council (ICC) had been planning to erect 1,500 permanent seats at the north Dublin venue, while also building a new pavilion and installing television and media facilities.
However, Cricket Ireland confirmed today that they had recently engaged an external expert to evaluate the existing option of redeveloping Malahide cricket ground or else pursuing the development of a new national cricket stadium at Abbotstown.
And while recognising the short-term drawbacks of relocating to a site without the same quality of public transport links as at Malahide, the expert’s report ultimately found in favour of relocating the primary national stadium development.
Speaking about the decision to abort the Malahide venture, Cricket Ireland chief executive Warren Deutrom explained: "Cricket in Ireland is entering an exciting new phase, as we begin to understand more and more the implications and obligations of becoming an ICC full member.
"We anticipate that the new Future Tours Programme [FTP] will be finalised by the ICC in April this year.
"It is likely to involve the senior men alone playing about 60 home matches over the next five seasons.
"That number doesn’t include women’s or youth international matches, men’s Inter-Provincial and women’s Super 3’s matches, major club finals or any future fixtures/competitions we might develop or host.
"What has become abundantly clear to the board is that this dramatic increase in our home schedule means that we will need to share the load beyond our four existing international-standard grounds around Ireland (Malahide, Clontarf, Stormont and Bready)."
The board’s considerations included Malahide CC’s location within the sensitive heritage environment of Malahide Castle Demesne and its close proximity to residential housing – with its associated challenges around planning and development as well as expansion in future years.
The need for a reasonable balance of international matches at Malahide CC with the right for club members to be able to use their venue for club matches and events.
The Sport Ireland National Sports Campus’ location on a green field site with space to plan and develop with fewer planning and zoning restrictions.
And the presence on the Sport Ireland National Sports Campus of world-class sports, fitness and training facilities, that would become readily available for cricket players to utilise.
Deutrom continued: "It has been no secret that our initial thinking was based around a re-development and expansion of Malahide Cricket Club. However, the report informed the board’s deliberations around a number of important issues around venue access and future-proofing.
"When we selected Malahide as the location for our main stadium in Dublin a decade ago, Irish cricket was in a very different position with a much smaller fixture list. By achieving Test status and joining the FTP, we’ve had to ask ourselves the tough question of whether that decision is still fit-for-purpose.
"Fundamentally, if we are to request substantial sums from Government, we need to be sure we can deliver on our programme of cricket matches at permanently-constructed venues which are commensurate with our new status."