EURO 2028: Will derelict stadium undergo redevelopment in time?

source: BBC; author: Miguel Ciołczyk Garcia

EURO 2028: Will derelict stadium undergo redevelopment in time? UEFA Euro 2028 tournament co-hosts Ireland and the UK will stage 10 venues. However, the only suitable venue in Northern Ireland has been derelict for more than a decade, with rising costs and history standing in the way of the renovation already underway.


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Difficult history

To understand local people's problem with Casement Park, you have to start as early as ... the name, as the facility is named after Roger Casement, an Irish nationalist who was executed in 1916 during the Easter Rising, which aimed to create an Irish Republic independent of London.

Established after the Second World War, the venue has been the site of many incidents related to the conflict. The site was temporarily occupied by British troops in 1972-73, and before that rallies were held on the site against the actions of the English armed forces. In 1988, the Provisional IRA beat up and murdered two British Army non-commissioned officers nearby. Conflict between Irish nationalists (mainly Catholics) and unionists seeking to remain within the British structure (mainly Protestants) generates tensions to this day.

Design of Casement Park© Inimagenable | Design from 2013

Exceptional venue (and exceptionally neglected)

The stadium itself, seating up to 31,500 fans, was built as an arena for Gaelic sports, Ireland's national games, some of the last fully amateur sports in the world. These include:

  • hurling
  • camogie (women's hurling)
  • Gaelic football (Irish football)
  • Gaelic handball
  • rounders

Despite outnumbering Windsor Park and Kingspan Stadium by more than 10,000 seats, making it the largest stadium in Northern Ireland, today Casement Park is deserted. The turf is overgrown with bushes, the concrete stands have been covered in dark colours and the metalwork is being eaten away by rust.

Design of Casement ParkDesign from 2018

Powerful symbol of reconciliation?

There is hope for the facility, however. As early as 2013, the design of the new Casement Park was presented, but it was put on hold by residents. After further attempts in 2017 and 2021, the 2028 UEFA European Football Championship is expected to be the impetus that will finally push the renovation forward. You can find out about all the venues chose to host the tournament here:

When Casement Park was officially put forward as the EURO 2028 tournament stadium, the Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA) and the Irish Football Association (IFA) issued a joint statement through the mouth of the GAA's regional chief executive, who said the new facility would be a compelling symbol of the power that sport has to unite people from every generation and background.

The facility would, in its new guise, be a symbol of reconciliation for local people, but due to its location in a strongly nationalist area of Belfast, many are wary of such a development, as we wrote back in November. Both sides have mixed feelings about the investment.

Work has started, but the money is not there

Although preparations for the redevelopment of the site began on Monday, it is still unclear what money will be used to fund it. In the 2013 assumptions, £15m was to be put up by the GAA and £62.5m by the Northern Ireland Executive. However, over 11 years the estimated amount has risen from £77.5m to £200m or even £300m. A member of the Northern Ireland Parliament said he thought the real figure was £220m.

The GAA has already dismissed the possibility of an increased financial contribution, citing the need for other investment and a lack of revenue because it is an amateur organisation. Politician Jim Allister described the translations as ridiculous, pointing to revenues of €96m in 2022. In contrast, last week Communities Minister Gordon Lyons admitted that the financial side of the project was a big difficulty.

Design of Casement ParkDesign from 2018

What is next?

For this reason, the Irish government has decided to add £50m to its neighbour's project, but the final amount is still far from being reached. Ireland's Deputy Prime Minister Micheál Martin said it would be a shame if Northern Ireland lost out to hosting EURO 2028 due to a lack of money. Despite news of the UK government's contribution, there is still no official confirmation of London's inclusion in the project.

Despite this risk, the initial phase of work has already begun. They are expected to last until mid-2027. This is the deadline that FIFA gives for stadium redevelopment for the games, so further delays are out of the question.