by Bernie English
THE redevelopment of the historic Markets Field sports ground is within touching distance, thanks to the announcement of €1.1m in funding for the project by Minister of State Jan O’Sullivan.
Together with €400,000 raised by the Limerick Enterprise Development Partnership, which is the driving the project to develop the Garryowen facility, the additional funding announced by Minister O’Sullivan will bridge the shortfall on the project and enable its completion by the end of 2014. The project has also benefited from the generosity of the JP McManus Foundation to the tune €1.5million.
In keeping with the objectives of the Limerick Regeneration programme, the 3,000 plus capacity stadium will provide for the return of Limerick FC to its spiritual home as well as becoming a centre for other sports and community organisations.
Work on re-laying the playing surface at the grounds, which has been unoccupied since 2009, has already been completed.
Announcing the funding, Minister O’Sullivan said the Markets Field holds a special place in the hearts of all Limerick sporting interests. In recent decades it was most recognised for its association with Limerick FC and greyhound racing, but it was originally a Gaelic Games ground, also hosted athletics competitions in its early years, was a one-time home of one of Limerick’s most famous rugby clubs, Garryowen before its association with soccer and greyhound racing.
“That’s a fantastic sporting heritage and it is only right that it would be redeveloped for use by a number of sports organisations and the community in addition to its anchor tenant Limerick FC.”
LEPD director Gerry Boland said the announcement of the additional funding was a really exciting moment for all involved with the project as it brought its completion to within touching distance.
“We are on track now for the Markets Field to reopen next year when it will begin writing another proud chapter for itself in the proud annals of sport in Limerick.”