THE main retail and hospitality groups in Cork have come together to demand certainty and accountability on the long-awaited €80m events centre project for the city.
The Cork Business Association, Irish Hotels Federation, Vintners Federation Cork and Restaurant Association Cork have joined forces to call for "certainty, accountability and meaningful communication".
The business organisations said that it is imperative for future planning and sustainability in Cork that the development of the 6,000 capacity multi-purpose venue begins immediately.
They are appealing to An Tánaiste Simon Coveney and Cork City Council for clarity on all phases of construction on the site.
The events centre project has been dogged by delays since the sod was officially turned three years ago, prompting fears that it may never be built.
Currently, negotiations are centred around the amount of public money that will be invested in the project. Initially, €20m of State funds were to be invested but a further €9m has been sanctioned in recent months.
However, the Government has said this extra funding must be in the form of a loan and talks are ongoing about how the funding mechanism will be introduced.
The business groups said, “The process has dragged out and at this stage the Government needs to deliver on this project, by resolving all interdepartmental issues and ensuring that the Developer BAM and operator Live Nation also delivers on their end.”
Development of the Centre, which saw the sod turned on its site three years ago, has been thwarted by delays which have seen costs soar from €53m to almost €80m.
The group said, “A dedicated events centre, that would bring Cork’s conferencing and events capacity from 1,000 to 6,000 seats, would be a game changer for the wider Cork region in terms of social and economic benefits.”
“Imagine what we could deliver with a dedicated multi-purpose venue with six times this capacity. It will not only make Cork a destination city nationally and internationally, but it will help retain concert and event business in Cork, giving our community the opportunity to spend their hard-earned money with local businesses.
“It will also speed up the regeneration of the North Main Street / Marsh and will create much greater vibrancy in the city in the evenings, dramatically changing our night time economy.
“The impact on local jobs alone would be significant, with 400 positions projected during the construction phase and up to 1,000 direct and indirect jobs for the region when it opens, according to Enda Kenny when he turned the sod three years ago.”
The business groups said that “growth in the city is currently impeded as we wait for answers. There will be a detrimental impact on several industries and the local economy if there is further stalling of the process."