Those behind the long-awaited events centre for Cork remain “absolutely committed” to the project – while a scaled-down version of the original plans is not envisaged.
That is according to Foreign Affairs Minister, Simon Coveney, as he admitted his own political capital was tied to the project getting over the line, despite little movement happening since the notorious sod-turning pre-election event in early 2016.
Building work has not yet begun on the proposed 6,000-capacity venue since former taoiseach Enda Kenny turned the sod on the former Beamish and Crawford brewery site.
Hampered by design, planning and intricate funding complexities, the State has since added from initial €16m investment to €50m in a bid to finally have the facility built.
Speaking ahead of the Cork French Film Festival, Mr Coveney said: “The funding is still in place. I’m obviously very associated with the event centre, and I’m very confident that this will still happen.
“I know people have become sceptical because it has gone on so long, but the €50m that the Government has committed to this project is very much intact.”
He claimed that the relationship between Live Nation, BAM and Cork City Council “is actually probably stronger and more positive” than it has ever been.
“I think Cork City Council has done a fantastic job here in terms of maintaining confidence in this project through Covid. Don’t forget, Live Nation is the second-largest events management company on the planet.
“No events have been taking place for nearly 18 months, so of course their business model has been completely undermined and disrupted.
“Despite that, they are still absolutely committed to this project, from the information that I have, as are BAM,” he said.
A scaled-down venue was not on the agenda, he said.
“That is not my understanding at all, and the €50m, which is a significant sum of public money is very much based on what has been applied for and what has planning permission, and what has been committed to by both Live Nation and BAM.
“It will be a huge part of the revival of Cork and its economy as a city post-Covid. I think it will be a good news story in time, but people are used to hearing me talking about the event centre, they’ve become cynical about it, and I get that.
“But believe me, the people who matter in terms of decision making around this are still absolutely committed to this. That goes for the Government, Cork City Council, BAM and Live Nation,” said Mr Coveney