Northern Ireland

Dundonald Ice Bowl to be redeveloped by 2026 as council agrees £52m funding

An artist's impression of the redeveloped Dundonald Ice Bowl.
An artist's impression of the redeveloped Dundonald Ice Bowl.

THE green light has been given for a multi-million pound redevelopment of Dundonald Ice Bowl.

The facility, located on the outskirts of east Belfast and which first opened in 1986, will be given a major makeover after members of Lisburn and Castlereagh City Council agreed to the redevelopment at a meeting on Tuesday evening.

Councillors agreed to invest £52 million in the project over the next three years. The sum will be added to £12.2m pledged earlier this year by the UK government through its Levelling Up Fund.

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Once opened in 2026, the new facility will include a 24-lane bowling alley, a gym, and community-use space.

Speaking at the meeting, the council's chief executive David Burns described the investment as a "landmark commitment", while mayor Andrew Gowan said: "As the only Olympic-sized ice rink in Northern Ireland and on the island of Ireland, it is the training home for the Belfast Giants and provides unique facilities for elite ice skaters to develop their talents.

“After 37 years, the building is no longer fit for purpose. Today’s announcement means we will see an exciting new leisure facility open to the public in 2026. We expect visitor numbers to rise to over 700,000 in the first year."

It is planned that the existing ice rink will remain open to visitors during construction.

“In less than three years’ time, local people and visitors from across Northern Ireland and beyond will be able to enjoy a state-of-the-art leisure facility with an Olympic-sized ice rink; a 24-lane bowling alley; 100-station gym; community rooms; restaurant and coffee shop," Mr Gowan added.

Welcoming confirmation of the project, East Belfast MLA and Alliance leader Naomi Long said: "The Ice Bowl is a fondly-regarded local institution, catering to those of all ages and interests, and both residents and visitors alike deserve the very best facilities possible. I’ll be eagerly awaiting updates on the redevelopment work as it gets underway."

In 2016 an audit revealed an aborted project to redevelop the Ice Bowl cost the old Castlereagh Borough Council £1.5 million for preliminary work.