Following preliminary works earlier this week, a full excavation of the pitch is now underway to allow the laying of a new state-of-the-art surface ahead of the 2022/23 season.
The new artificial surface will enable Connacht to retain the Sportsground as both its training and playing base long into the future, with additional capacity to continue hosting the very many club and school games that take place at the Galway ground every year.
Meanwhile, phase 2 of the redevelopment will soon be entering the procurement phase leading to the construction of a state-of-the-art High Performance Centre and the construction of a new North Stand to follow thereafter.
Willie Ruane, CEO of Connacht Rugby, commented: “This is a historic occasion for Connacht Rugby. ‘Facilities to match our ambition’ has been a key pillar of our vision and strategy, and plans for such a facility have been in the works for many years now.
“Today we are delighted to confirm that phase 1 on the construction of this new facility has now begun. There are many advantages to an artificial surface, not least that it enables us to remain in the Sportsground as both our training and playing base.
“The additional capacity that this surface provides will also give boys and girls across the province greater opportunities to play at the home of Connacht Rugby, and act as a beacon that future generations of players and supporters can be proud of.
“The new LED floodlight system will also greatly enhance the viewing experience for both supporters attending games and those watching at home.”
He added: “Needless to say, the Sportsground holds an emotional attachment for all of us and any change can be difficult. These works, however, represent a new phase in the life of the Sportsground and one that will secure its future as a fit-for-purpose facility for many years to come.
This redevelopment project is also the start of what is a very exciting time for Connacht Rugby. The new High Performance Centre will give all our squads state-of-the-art facilities that will help them prepare to their fullest potential and to perform at the highest level.
“The new North Stand will also transform the province in terms of the facilities we can offer our fans and players and in the commercial and financial benefits that accrue with that.
“Finally, I would like to thank the Government, whose financial support has made this redevelopment possible, the Sportsground stakeholders, and our local residents for their fulsome support of this project.”