What a sport!

What a sport!

COLERAINE could be in line for a 20 million sports stadium.

The idea of a combined community stadium and leisure centre at Rugby Avenue has been an aspiration of Coleraine Borough Council for a number of years.

On Tuesday, members of the Council's Leisure Committee have heard details of a feasibility study which has been carried out by consultants Ostick and Williams.

The consultatnts made a presentation to members during which they outlined a number of possible options for what elements could be combined into the stadium and what the finanical costing could be.

Option 1 - A separate stadium and six-lane athletics track, with ice rink and a synthetic pitch (21.1 million to 25.7 million)

Option 2 - Combine athletics track into the stadium, with ice rink and two synthetic pitches (20.4 million to 26.5 million)

Option 3 - A separate stadium and athletics track excluding ice rink but including two synthetic pitches (20.6 million to 26.7 million)

Option 4 - Combine athletics track into stadium excluding ice rink plus three synthetic pitches (21.1 million to 27.1 million).

Councillors were told that the consultants had spoken to a number of sporting bodies to ascertain their support for a new stadium.

Sport NI were said to be very keen on a completely new development as opposed to a refurbishment.

The IFA said that their support would be given first and foremost to Coleraine Football Club and any money they might be contributing to the project would be via the Ballycastle Road club.

Councillors heard that the IFA were supporting projects for grass roots regional centres of excellence and are currently seeking partnerships with local councils. They would see the Rugby Avenue project as a suitable one.

Coleraine Football Club were said to be supportive of having a training centre at Rugby Avenue but stressed they were based at the Showgrounds and wished to remain there.

UK Athletics and Athletics NI said they were supportive of the Rugby Avenue project as they believed there had been a decline in the athletics community in the Coleraine area.

The Univeristy of Ulster has already got plans to redevelop sporting facilities at their Coleraine campus but were said to be finding it finanically difficult. They were said to be very interested in a partnership with Council regarding Rugby Avenue.

The Milk Cup Committee - who moved the tournament finals night to Ballymena - said they dearly wished to return to Coleraine but wouldn't do so until there was a suitable venue.

The consultants said that the next step - if Council decided to take it - was to refine the project specification to identify exactly what sports would be accommodated in the stadium, what their pitch and facility requirements would be, whether the ice rink would be incorporated in the project and whether retail units would be included.

One of the most important aspects of the next step would be to assess the financial viability of the project.

There was broad support from the committee memebrs who described the project as "exciting".

Cllr Adrian McQuillan suggested that the much-debated Coleraine museum could be sited at the Rugby Avenue development to signpost visitors to both amenities.

Leisure Committee members agreed to move to the next stage of the process which will cost in the region of 70,000 and is estimated to take three to four months to complete.