Who will run the Stadium?

JUST a few short months after it was rebranded as ‘the Northern Ireland Centenary Stadium’ talks are underway which could see the popular running track under new management.

An ‘initial approach’ has been made by Athletics Northern Ireland regarding the potential of entering into a facility management agreement.

They are interested in taking on responsibility for the Stadium on Council’s behalf - in return for a management fee.

It is anticipated that any arrangement would involve management of bookings, organising events, promotion and sports development.

A similar agreement is in place between Athletics NI and Belfast City Council for the management of The Mary Peters Track.

The news comes as a new track surface is scheduled to be laid in July - and the new Mondo surface will facilitate international competition and meet Track Mark accreditation.

In a council report, due to be presented this week, officers have said that more detail in relation to arrangements would be required prior to making any decision.

Nevertheless, they have recommended that the proposal should be ‘explored’ in detail.

The stadium was rebranded late last year to mark the province’s 100th anniversary.

Mayor of Antrim and Newtownabbey Councillor Billy Webb, and Deputy Mayor Councillor Stephen Ross, unveiled the new name plaque at a rededication ceremony with local Councillors, members of the NI Centenary Working Group and local runners.

The stadium first opened in 1979 and it has drawn some big names down the years, including Steve Ovett, Fatima Whitbread and Daley Thompson.

Mayor Billy Webb said that locals had also benefited down the years.

“There have been a huge number of successful events at the stadium over the years, as well as athletic stars training here and succeeding in their sporting careers, thanks to the dedication of coaches and clubs,” he said.

“I know there will be many more success stories to come under the new Northern Ireland Centenary Stadium name.”

The new name was the brainchild of DUP Councillor Paul Dunlop - and he predicts big days ahead.

“After bringing the proposal to rename Antrim Stadium to Council during the Centenary Year, I was delighted to see the official renaming Northern Ireland Centenary Stadium.

“I now look forward to the laying of the new athletics track, which will bring the venue up to a standard to attract international competitors and competition from around the UK and further afield.”

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