Our non-events centre as O'Callaghan Properties rule out a renewed bid

Our non-events centre as O'Callaghan Properties rule out a renewed bid

The site of the events centre yesterday. There is now a take-it-or-leave-it offer on the table to kick-start development. Picture: Denis Minihane

THE €10 million take-it-or-leave-it offer from the State to developers BAM to kickstart the events centre may be the last chance for the development as the only other interested party has ruled out a renewed bid for the project.

Last week, Cork City Council made an application for further funding for the event centre project, seeking €10 million on behalf of developers BAM from the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht.

BAM, which has yet to respond to the offer, had sought €18 million.

The application by the local authority came on the back of legal advice which 'confirms the maximum amount of additional public funding that can be granted without instigating a new procurement process', according to Tony Fitzgerald, the Lord Mayor of Cork.

The development has led to renewed fears on Leeside that the long-awaited development may never see the light of day, with some even calling for the government to put the project back out to tender.

However, even that may not be sufficient, with a spokesperson for O'Callaghan Properties confirming it has 'moved on' from having any interest in developing an event centre in Cork.

O'Callaghan Properties were the only other developer to compete for the original tender in 2014, meaning it is uncertain that any other company would even submit a new tender should the project go back to the drawing board.

A spokesperson for the developer said, "O'Callaghan Properties are fully focused on the development of Navigation Square on our Albert Quay site.

"That will be the biggest office project to be undertaken in Cork city centre. We have moved on from all matters relating to the event centre."

With each delay, Cork is missing out on a multi-million euro economic boost associated with the 6,000-capacity event centre proposed for the city.

The excitement... fans reaction when Kodaline take to the stage at their sell-out concert at the INEC, Killarney.
The excitement... fans reaction when Kodaline take to the stage at their sell-out concert at the INEC, Killarney.

While the Marquee frequently hosts 5,000 people during the summer months, for the 10 months of the year that it is not operational, Cork city’s biggest permanent venue is the Opera House, whose capacity is just 1,000.

Similar projects have been transformative in Belfast, Bristol, Hull and Leeds, while venues in Dublin and Killarney underline the importance of large-scale theatres. BAM, which has operated in Cork since 1958, has completed a number of these and Live Nation is involved in running many such venues.

The Bord Gáis Energy Theatre hosts dozens of music, theatre and dance events throughout the year.

A smaller theatre than the nearby 3 Arena, it forms a crucial part of Dublin’s entertainment offering and has double the capacity of Cork Opera House at 2,000 seats.

The £120 million SSE Arena in Belfast is a multi-purpose sports, music and entertainment venue which has hosted more than eight million visitors since opening in the year 2000. In 2012, it hosted the MTV Europe Awards which was, at the time, reported to be worth £22m for the city.

BAM has recently been involved in developing the 13,500-capacity First Direct Arena for Leeds City Council. The £60m arena has hosted the biggest names in entertainment, including Bruce Springsteen, Prince, Fleetwood Mac, and Mumford & Sons.

BAM was recently been involved in the development of the 13,500-capacity Leeds Arena for Leeds City Council.
BAM was recently been involved in the development of the 13,500-capacity Leeds Arena for Leeds City Council.

The development followed years of campaigning by locals, with a contractor appointed in 2008. Construction began in February 2011, with the first concert held on July 24, 2013.

BAM is still working on the Hull Venue, a key element of the city’s bid for City of Culture 2017. At 3,500 seats, it is slightly smaller than the planned event centre for Cork, though it will also include a 800-capacity conference space, with the first events expected to be staged by late 2018.

U2’s Bono on stage at the SSE Arena in Belfast as part of their recent tour.
U2’s Bono on stage at the SSE Arena in Belfast as part of their recent tour.

Killarney’s INEC hosts major events throughout the year capable of hosting multi-day conferences, major music events and festivals, each resulting in a major financial boost to the town.

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