Euro 2028: New Casement Park even smaller than expected?

source:; author: Paulina Skóra

Euro 2028: New Casement Park even smaller than expected? New Casement Park for the UEFA European Championship 2028 is to be built in West Belfast. However, there are concerns whether the facility will be completed on time and whether it will look as originally planned. What's going on in Northern Ireland?


Smaller capacity than anticipated

At the time the construction permit was issued in 2022, planned capacity was 34,578 seats. However, it turns out that the final number of seats will be reduced to 30,000. The tournament organizer, UEFA, requires venues to have only seated places, while the original concept for Casement Park envisioned something entirely different.

The venue was planned to have 26,000 seated and 8,500 standing places, as is usually the case in Irish Gaelic sports venues. However, it was assumed that the stands with the capacity approved in 2022 would be built first, and just before Euro 2028, it would be reduced to meet UEFA's requirements. Considering that the construction of the stadium has not yet begun, there will not be enough time to carry out the work to reduce the capacity before the tournament.

Design of Casement ParkDesign from 2018

Will they make it?

However, there are significant concerns whether the stadium will be completed by the set deadline. UEFA wants the facility to be ready no later than mid-2027 to allow time for test events before the tournament. Unfortunately, construction has not yet started, and the main problem is financial issue.

Official estimates suggest that the investment cost will be around £308 million, an amount which is currently not entirely covered. If these problems prevent the redevelopment, Belfast will miss out on hosting the 2028 European Championships, as no other stadium in the city could hold tournament matches.

The Belfast facility is one of the 10 stadiums in the UK and Ireland selected to host matches for Euro 2028. The redevelopment project is overseen by the Department for Communities.

Design of Casement ParkDesign from 2018

Gaelic sports culture

The current Casement Park was inaugurated in 1953, with an official capacity of 31,500 seats. However, it has been unused for the past 10 years and is falling into disrepair. The new stadium, like its predecessor, will primarily be used for GAA (Gaelic Athletic Association) matches, but the project will allow for other sports, including football and rugby, to be played there. It will be the only venue in Belfast with over 20,000 seats.

Attachment to Gaelic sports is a very interesting topic. For example, at Croke Park in Dublin, it is strictly forbidden to play any sports other than those within the GAA. However, there has been a small precedent in the past. From 2007 to 2009, when the Aviva Stadium was being rebuilt, both the rugby and football national teams played at the Croker.

In 2022, the head of the Irish Football Association, Jonathan Hill, officially admitted to having discussions with the Gaelic Athletic Association about the possibility of hosting Euro 2028 matches at Croke Park. However, it seemed possible only if UEFA expanded the tournament to 32 teams.

Casement Park Casement Park in 2010