Thursday, 29 January 2009

Sharing wasn't the problem. The Maze stadium was a bad proposal.

From the perspective of a fan of the Northern Ireland football team, I was opposed to the Maze stadium proposals for purely apolitical reasons. The plans would simply have delivered the wrong facility in the wrong place

Naturally, as a unionist, I was also deeply unenthused by the prospect of a terrorist museum being erected / preserved at the Maze site. However my apprehension in that regard had little to do with concerns about the suitability of the stadium.

The act of building a sports’ venue at the Maze would not have metamorphosised the adjacent hospital into some manner of IRA shrine by some indelible law of nature. Nor will scrapping plans for the stadium necessarily involve shelving the ‘peace and reconciliation centre’ (ho hum), as is becoming increasingly apparent.

I can also say with absolute certainty that the vast majority of Northern Ireland supporters have no difficulty sharing a stadium with the GAA (in principle). There may be reservations as regards design implications, but that is an entirely different issue and does not sustain the outrageous slurs which Feeney and others have insisted on making.

If there were to be a stadium, suitable to the needs of the football team in terms of facilities, venue and capacity, most Northern Ireland supporters wouldn’t care less if Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness booked it every other weekend for bouts of homoerotic mud wrestling, as long as it was available and in good condition when international fixtures came around.

Of course the very notion that a multi sports’ venue would increase interaction between communities is questionable. Providing facilities where no-one feels uncomfortable is desirable. But the three sports which signed up to the Maze project would not have used it at the same time!

Any decent sized shopping centre would do more to ‘bring people together’, or a city centre cinema. Requiring fans to travel to a god-forsaken former prison in the middle of nowhere in order to watch their respective sports was not a good plan to heal society in Northern Ireland. Neither is scrapping it a major setback.

So if, as reports suggest, Gregory Campbell intends to scrap plans for a stadium at the Maze, his action is justifiable on purely practical grounds. It was a bad design and it was a bad site.

It is a decision to applaud, but it shouldn’t necessarily sound the death knell of either a new stadium or the notion of sharing it between two or more sports. An innovative proposal, taking into account modern notions on stadia location and answering to the needs of the IFA, IRFU and GAA is surely not beyond the ken of our best architects.

It’s just a pity that so much time has been wasted considering options at the Maze.


Anonymous said...

What? No thread about the Tories propping up Alex Salmond for the send year running?

Shurely shome mishtake?

Anonymous said...

send should be 2nd

O'Neill said...

The level of hatred shown by Republicans (you just need to see any of the usual monocultural fascist crew in action on the connected threads on Slugger) towards anything connected with the Northern Ireland team really puts doubts in one's mind as to their commitment to this cliche of a "shared future" which they repeated mantra-fashion in connection with the White Elephant project.

That however makes it even more important that the IFA continues with such things as FFA and that we continue to make inroads into the bigotted hinderland that unfortunately dominates even sport in NI. But we should do it with our eyes wide open and with a realistic approach to the true motivations of the likes of McElduff.

O'Neill said...

"Hinderland" should probably read "hinterland".

Chekov said...

"The level of hatred shown by Republicans (you just need to see any of the usual monocultural fascist crew in action on the connected threads on Slugger) towards anything connected with the Northern Ireland team"

It's frenzied stuff. And ironic given that it's all about 'sectarian cesspits' and the like. What really annoys them is that NI fans have largely got their act together.

Hernandez said...

Good to see that has finally been put too bed. Shame so much time has been wasted on it. I'd like to see a feasibility study for redeveloping Windsor, and a CBA for the Ormeau Park plans. I assume these are the two most realistic options at this juncture?

Chekov said...

'a CBA'

A what now?

Anonymous said...

the white elephant is dead!

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CW said...

Homoerotic mud-wrestling, eh? So that's what the "dirty protest" was all about then!

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