Euro 2028 games at Casement Park would boost Northern Ireland economy by over £100m, study finds

Hosting Euro 2028 Championship games at Casement Park will boost Northern Ireland’s economy by more than £100 million, according to a study.

Hosting Euro 2028 Championship games at Casement Park will boost Northern Ireland’s economy by more than £100 million, according to a study. There will be an expected spend of £52million on accommodation as well as a further £54 million on other expenditure such as hospitality and retail, according to the Grant Thornton report. It expects that the 150,000 spectators would be made up of 40,000 unique visitors to Belfast along with 90,000 Northern Ireland residents.

It said, with some spectators attending more than one game, the proposed five matches at Casement are expected to generate 180,000 bed nights for Northern Ireland hoteliers and other accommodation providers. It follows analysis of data from Tourism NI, the Hotel Federation and the Irish FA. Casement Park was named as one of the 10 preferred UK and Ireland stadia venues for the European football championships, but doubt lingers over the prospect of games being held there. While there are plans to redevelop the derelict GAA stadium in west Belfast, there has been uncertainty over funding for the project, with estimated costs spiralling to a reported £308 million. In 2011, the Stormont executive committed £62.5 million to the project. In February, the Irish Government offered £40 million towards it and the GAA has said it will contribute up to £15 million. However, Northern Ireland Secretary Chris Heaton-Harris said the UK Government is “working to figure out” how much renovations will cost amid rising prices. Earlier this week, Communities Minister Gordon Lyons said he was awaiting “further clarity” on funding for the stadium. The Grant Thornton report – which was commissioned by Ulster GAA – does not factor in the construction of the stadium or the hosting of other events. The economic impact of all 51 games across the UK and Ireland is calculated at £2.6 billion. Grant Thornton chief economist Andrew Webb said major events such as the Euros are a catalyst for increased inward investment. He said: “While the economic and sporting legacy of Belfast hosting the Euros is considerable, the long-term growth in visitor numbers and the positive statement of intent that it sends out to international investors is perhaps the greatest prize of all. “In terms of size, scale and international reach, the Euros is an unparalleled event for Northern Ireland and it not only puts us on the map for future large-scale events, but it creates the right circumstances that supports inward investment, creating jobs and growing the economy.”

Brian McAvoy, chief executive of Ulster GAA, said: “We want and need to see progress, now, on the long-standing commitments given to deliver Casement Park. “In the joint letter sent by Ulster GAA and the Irish FA to Prime Minister Rishi Sunak last weekend, we thanked him and the Government for their previous public commitments to invest in the project. “We also called for clarity on the Casement Park and Euro 2028 funding position to enable the NI Executive to then take the necessary steps to deliver this landmark stadium. “With the announcement of the impending dissolution of the UK Parliament within days this matter is now beyond urgent. “If Euro 2028 can be hosted in Belfast, what a powerful message it would send out on the 30th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement in 2028, shining a global light on the progress our community has made in building peace, prosperity and reconciliation.”

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