Cork GAA’s new chief executive insists that he ‘trusts’ the final figure of €95.8m estimated for the redevelopment of Páirc Uí Chaoimh.
The project has been mired in controversy in recent months, with the cost spiralling upwards from the original figure of €70m.
After several increases, the final bill was projected at €86m, but before Christmas Croke Park stepped in to take over the project amid fears that it could rise as high as €110m.
A recent estimate put the total cost at €95.8m and while that may yet rise, Cork’s CEO Kevin O’Donovan says this is a figure he ‘trusts’.
"There is a lot of frustration among our members and the public around the estimates still being on the table given that the stadium opened 18 months ago," he acknowledged in an exclusive interview with RTÉ Sport.
"The reason it is an estimate is that there are four issues still outstanding; negotiations with the contractor, negotiations with local government, negotiations with central government and the pitch situation.
"It’s the figure we have on the table at the money and I trust that figure.
"If you take the timeline back to when there was talk of €70m then €78m, €84m and then €86m and so on. A lot of those, up to the €86m, would have been approved at board level where there were changes made to the project.
"The reason the figure has taken this jump now is that they have taken a prudent and clear approach to those four outstanding issues and they have set that figure. That’s the figure I accept and will work with."
When asked about the higher total of €110m put forward by Croke Park Commercial Manager and Croke Park Stadium director Peter McKenna, O’Donovan said he didn’t think the cost would rise that high.
"We don’t envisage it going there," he remarked.
Despite its high-price redevelopment, the Páirc is currently closed due to problems with its pitch.
The playing surface cut-up badly during the recent Allianz League double-header featuring Cork against Kildare in football and Wexford in hurling.
The GAA released a statement shortly afterwards saying that the pitch was unacceptable.
O’Donovan said: "We’ve grasped that and accept that; it’s hands up on all sides that the pitch is unacceptable. I go back to that first day when the teams ran out for the game – within ten minutes I was on the phone saying ‘this cannot continue’.
"This was embarrassing for our members, unfair on our players, it was unacceptable. We accept that and now we’re taking steps to fix that – that’s all we can do."
O’Donovan said that the figure of €95.8m will include a full pitch replacement.
"It includes a full replacement and if a full replacement didn’t happen that figure could come down, but I am certainly pushing for full replacement and the board will make a decision on that on Monday," he explained.