Rugby Avenue stadium will be a ‘signature project’

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THE proposed new sports stadium at Rugby Avenue in Coleraine is set to be a “signature project” according to the Chief Executive of Coleraine Borough Council.

At a meeting of Coleraine Borough Council last Tuesday, councillors, were given an update on the project, which has reached consultation stage, by Chief Executive Roger Wilson, pictured right.

The issue of the stadium project was raised in any other business, as the Mayor of Coleraine, councillor Sam Cole told the meeting he was disappointed with comments made by Milk Cup Chairman Victor Leonard at a reception held in Ballymena earlier in the week.

Councillor Cole claimed that the Milk Cup chairman had been “scathing” of Coleraine Borough Council and its efforts to build a new stadium.

He said that the Milk Cup chairman had asked him as Mayor to “push things forward” on the stadium project.

He also claimed that Mr Leonard had said that Council was “all talk and no action.”

Alderman James McClure agreed with councillor Cole, saying he too was “unhappy” with Mr Leonard’s alleged comments.

However other councillors viewed Mr Leonard’s remarks Milk Cup in a different light.

Councillor David McClarty told the meeting: “He’s anxious to have the tournament on the North Coast.

“He is setting out a challenge to Coleraine Borough Council to have a stadium to host the finals. He wasn’t being critical,” said the Independent member.

DUP alderman Maurice Bradley agreed, saying: “I have never heard Victor Leonard sing anything but praise for Coleraine Borough Council.

“He’s frustrated. Ballymena is not a suitable venue, the Milk Cup committee want the finals back in Coleraine as soon as possible.

“The pressure is on us to get this project up and running as soon as possible.”

UUP councillor William King, who is also a volunteer with the Milk Cup, added: “As one of the 60 volunteers of the Milk Cup I know that they are entirely behind this area.

“We’re away behind the times.

“Look at Scroggy Road in Limavady and Ballymena Showgrounds - we are nowhere. We’re just not up to standard. We’ve got to move fast.”

Councillor Christine Alexander asked if there was any update on the Rugby Avenue development.

Chief Executive, Roger Wilson told the meeting that the second phase of the consultation was almost complete.

He said that a meeting would be held inext month to set out the options available.

“This is going to be a signature project, it has the potential to be the region’s best project,” said the Chief Executive.

He added that by the end of the summer Council would be looking at funding options available and linkages - “it is very much an alive and active project,” said Mr Wilson.

When asked when the project would come to fruition, Mr Wilson told the meeting: “It is certainly not short term - it will be a number of years.”