BAM: We are 100% committed to see events centre through

BAM: We are 100% committed to see events centre through

Cork City Council Chief Executive, Ann Doherty, and BAM Chief Executive Theo Cullinane, at the launch of the ‘Below our Feet’ Viking Exhibition at Cork Public Museum yesterday. Both said that BAM and the City Council are committed to the events centre project. Picture: Michael O'Sullivan/OSM Photo

BAM chief Theo Cullinane said that his company will step aside and allow a second tendering process for the events centre if there are concerns about the viability of the current project.

However, the Corkman insists he is 100% committed to the development and that he intends to see it through to completion.

It is now likely to be the end of 2020 or the beginning of 2021 before Cork people can expect to see international acts in the state-of-the-art centre due to planning tweaks and an application for additional funding.

Despite the delays, though, Mr Cullinane said he is desperate to see the works completed, even going as far as to suggest that he would support a second tendering process if it was deemed necessary.

“The Cork people are looking for a world class events centre and, if we want that, we have to pay for it. There’s a misconception here that this is a BAM project,” he said.

“I take personal responsibility in that I initiated the project with the previous city manager and BAM has stuck with the project, but this project is being driven by BAM for the people of Cork.

“There is a question that this a big construction project for BAM; not necessarily. If there is a decision later that the City Council might like another contractor to tender for it, I am willing to agree to that. My objective is to deliver a world class events centre for Cork.

“We are the preferred tender at the moment and we will bring it to a stage where it can be developed. If there is a question out there that this is a BAM project, I am willing to stand back and leave the council re-tender the project if they wish.”

City Chief Executive, Ann Doherty, played down the need for such a move, though, insisting that all parties are still committed to the works.

She said: “We have heard Theo [Cullinane] say he is committed, City Council is committed, Live Nation is committed and central government is committed. It’s time that we all pulled together and got on with it.

“We do need to go through a planning process but we will work closely in a pre-planning process, as we do with everybody, and then it will enter a formal process, which I can’t comment on.”

Tánaiste Simon Coveney, too, confirmed his support of the project, indicating that a decision on the additional funds should be made sooner rather than later.

“The government has committed to get the Cork Events Centre built and the revised funding proposal is with the Department of Culture Arts and Heritage. The legal advice on that is due back very soon,” he said.

An application for an additional €10 million in State aid was submitted late last year, with a decision still pending. In February, BAM said that a ‘package’ was in place to push the works through, including the commitment of further funds by BAM and Live Nation.

Mr Cullinane said that this package is still in place. “We’re just waiting on central government and the local authority,” he said.

“The deal, I would say, is in place. The final issues are being dealt with at present.”

The finished product, he added, will be ‘the most versatile’ events centre in the world.

“The events centre will be able to accommodate all the acts that happen around the world.

“I don’t think the people of Cork will understand this until they see the scope of events going on there.”

Mr Cullinane noted that Live Nation is fully supportive of the projects, committing financially in a manner which is not normally required in many other countries.

He said: “Originally, Live Nation weren’t involved because of the [tendering] process. There was only one operator in real terms. Normally what happens is that the City Council would develop a project like this and lease it to an operator.

“We are very lucky; we have the best operator in the world in Live Nation and they have committed huge sums of money to it, as we have ourselves. The package we have is one that Cork will reap the rewards of in the future.”

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