“Cork City growth impeded”

Cork business groups join forces calling for movement on Cork Events Centre

“Pressure must be put on all stakeholders to deliver this vital piece of

infrastructure for the region”.

The Cork Business Association (CBA), Irish Hotels Federation Cork (IHF), Vintners Federation Cork (VFI) and Restaurant Association Cork (RAI) have joined forces to call for ‘certainty, accountability and meaningful communication’ on the long-awaited Cork Events Centre.

 

The business organisations said that it is imperative for future planning and sustainability in Cork that the development of the 6,000 capacity multi-purpose venue begins immediately.

 

They are appealing to An Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Simon Coveney TD and to local government for clarity on all phases of construction on the site. The group said, “The process has dragged out and at this stage the Government needs to deliver on this project, by resolving all interdepartmental issues and ensuring that the Developer BAM and operator Live Nation also deliver on their end.”

 

Development of the Centre, which saw the sod turned on its site three years ago, has been thwarted by delays which have seen costs soar from €53m to almost €80m, and sanctioned a State investment increase from €20m to €30m. Further delays have been caused due to legal issues and the €9m repayable loan element of the State funding.

 

The group said, “A dedicated events centre, that would bring Cork’s conferencing and events capacity from 1,000 to 6,000 seats, would be a game changer for the wider Cork region in terms of social and economic benefits.”

 

The MICE (meetings, incentives, conferences, events) market in Cork is

currently worth €13.2m, with a further €14m in the pipeline for next year,

according to the latest figures from Cork Convention Bureau.

 

“Imagine what we could deliver with a dedicated multi-purpose venue with six times this capacity. It will not only make Cork a destination city nationally and internationally, but it will help retain concert and event business in Cork, giving our community the opportunity to spend their hard-earned money with local businesses.

 

“It will also speed up the regeneration of the North Main Street / Marsh and will create much greater vibrancy in the city in the evenings, dramatically changing our night time economy.

 

“The impact on local jobs alone would be significant, with 400 positions projected during the construction phase and up to 1,000 direct and indirect jobs for the region when it opens, according to Enda Kenny when he turned the sod three years ago.”

 

The business groups said that “growth in the city is currently impeded as we wait for answers. There will be a detrimental impact on several industries and the local economy if there is further stalling of the process.

 

“Hoteliers, publicans, restaurateurs and businesses are investing heavily in the region because of the potential that the city holds. But return on that investment very much depends on the events centre coming to fruition.”

 

The IHF announced last week that there is a very real danger that there will be an oversaturation of hotels on the market. “The accommodation market is just not sustainable at the rate it is growing without the addition of the convention centre.

 

“More than 1,500 new bedrooms are already in development or in the pipeline for Cork City, which would provide a 50% increase on the number of existing rooms currently available.  In addition, there are 4,000 AirBnB units now in Cork and additional summer lettings will also be offered at the new student accommodation being built.

 

“Whilst this is great news for the city, as it would cater for a significant increase in visitors and generate many local jobs, the increase in bedroom provision could over-saturate the market if the events centre does not get underway soon.  And we cannot jeopardise this much needed investment in our city and the creation of jobs.

 

“Already investment in the city is also being put on hold. There is potential investment earmarked for the neighbouring Marsh/ North Main Street area but that investment won’t be made until the Events Centre is underway.

 

“It is well known that the retail sector is suffering both nationally and

internationally and the substantial year-round footfall that the Cork Events Centre would bring would breathe new life and vibrancy into our city.”

 

The group said that the economic benefits the Cork Events Centre would bring to the city would also offset the €9m loan to be paid back to the State by Cork City Council.

 

“There are 10,000 new jobs and people projected to come in to the city in the next five years and an events centre is an important part of the infrastructure.  It’s an important foundation stone for the future of Cork that will speed up regeneration, dramatically change the night time economy and have real and sustained positive benefits both socially and economically, but the whole city is on hold waiting for it.

 

“Everyone knows how much construction of the Events Centre is going to cost and there is no point at this stage quibbling over the money. If the extra cost gets it over the line, then that’s the price that has to be paid. Its development will lead to currently empty city centre rate paying units re-opening, it will bring jobs and it create revenue that will help repay the loan.  Construction must begin before costs rise again.”

 

In conclusion, the group said, “As Ireland’s Second City, it should be a priority that we have these facilities. We need a date put in writing for when development will start, accountability of the process and clear communication around timelines. We need to know that this is happening. Certainty is better than uncertainty and an outcome needs to be communicated either way.”

 

The Cork Business Association (CBA), Irish Hotels Federation

Cork (IHF), Vintners Federation Cork (VFI) and Restaurant Association Cork (RAI) represents more than 500 businesses in Cork City.