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Bidding imminent on Stadium Ireland design

CONSTRUCTION OF a national stadium for Ireland is now expected to go ahead after the new government backed scheme.

The Stadium Ireland project has been dogged by controversy over spiralling costs and a shortage of public money to fund it.

Initial proposals were for a multi-sports stadium on a greenfield site in west Dublin, replacing Lansdowne Road for both soccer and rugby internationals.

Cost was estimated at £158M.

The government then upgraded the scheme to an 80,000 seater stadium with a vast 2,000ha sports campus.

This included a velodrome, aquatic centre, golf academy and offices for sports organisations.

A row over the escalating costs threatened to bring down the government, amid a weakening in public finances after 11 September.

A report for the government by consultant High Point Rendel in January revealed that the costs could escalate to £687.5M, though the figure was disputed by the promoter, Sports Campus Ireland.

The scheme was shelved but last week the new administration committed itself to building a 'world class stadium' as part of its programme.

The government is now to study the High Point Rendel report before deciding on what type of stadium to build. A decision is needed quickly to allow design to proceed, as the stadium forms the centrepiece of Ireland's bid to host the Euro 2008 soccer championships with Scotland.

Sources said a decision could be expected within weeks. Five international consortia were shortlisted to bid for the design, build, finance, operate and maintain contract. These included Multiplex, Bovis Lend Lease and Brown & Root.

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