Northern Ireland

Casement Park: Tenders for redevelopment to go out within days

Construction must begin by Christmas to be included in Euros

Casement Park GAA stadium in Belfast
Casement Park Casement Park GAA stadium in Belfast (Niall Carson/PA)

A Stormont department is expected to invite tenders for the redevelopment of Casement Park within days, the Irish News understands.

The Department for Communities (DfC) , which is leading the redevelopment, is expected to contact potential bidders next week.

The development comes as the clock continues to count down for the beleaguered project.

The proposed 34,500 capacity Casement Park stadium is included in the joint Ireland/Britain bid to host Euro 2028 and concerns have previously been raised over whether its redevelopment will be completed in time.

It is understood work must begin before Christmas if the deadline is to be met.

In 2013 Herron Brothers and English construction firm Buckingham Group, were appointed to redevelop the landmark GAA ground.

However, the project received a setback last August when Buckingham Group gave notice of its intention to appoint administrators.

It later went into administration owing more than £108m.

In November last year DfC confirmed it was taking the lead in the hunt for a new contractor after Co Derry-based Heron Brothers was forced to withdraw from the multi-million pound project “due to technical restrictions within the Public Contract Regulations”.

At the time DfC officials said a streamlined process would be pursued using “existing procurement frameworks for major construction projects with pre-qualified contractors”.

It later told the Irish News that the Regional Stadia Programme project team are “engaging with Crown Commercial Services on utilising a National Framework to procure a contractor for the main works”.

It is understood the framework included around 20 firms with the capacity to build the landmark west Belfast stadium.

It is believed that of that number around half have signaled an interest in the project, although not all may submit a formal tender.

To date DfC officials have remained tight lipped about the procurement process.

Casement Park GAA stadium is one of the venues selected to host matches in the Euro 2028 football tournament
Workmen as Casement Park (Liam McBurney/PA)

Initially budgeted at £77 million, it is now estimated the delayed building project will cost around £220m to complete, with the GAA set to pick up just £15m of the total.

Last month the Irish government pledged €50m to the project.

Many have looked to the British government to make up the shortfall, but it has so far failed to publicly commit any more cash despite assurances by Secretary of State Chris Heaton-Harris that the money will be found to build the stadium.

Last month contractors were brought into the sight to begin clearing work.

The work began days before a delegation from UAEFA visited Belfast, including the Casement Park site.

DfC was contacted.