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Maze prison best location for Northern lreland stadium

The site of the notorious Maze prison is the best location for Northern Ireland's proposed multi-purpose stadium, an investigation concluded last week.

A fully-costed feasibility study by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PWC) found that the site at Long Kesh near Lisburn represented the best value for money location for a £240M arena.

The consultant's final report argues that although it would take £126M to build the stadium and another £114M to improve transport infrastructure in the area, the net cost to the taxpayer after four years would be £37M if the 38,500-seater stadium hosted 23 major sporting and music events a year.

Even this cost, the report claims, could be balanced by non-monetary benefits such as the project's contribution to sports development, greater community cohesion through provision of a shared space and the improved external image of Northern Ireland for both visitors and investors.

Closed in 2000, the Maze prison held many of the most notorious Republican and Loyalist paramilitary figures. Demolition of the development began in October 2006, a symbol of the peace process.

The PWC report was commissioned by Northern Ireland Minister for Culture, Arts and Leisure Edwin Poots. Rival proposals for a stadium include a development at Belfast's North Foreshore, but PWC ruled this out on cost.

Opposition to the Maze as the proposed site comes on three fronts: those who prefer the convenience of a city centre location; those with concerns about a proposed conflict transformation centre at the site becoming "a terrorist shrine" and Northern Ireland soccer supporters.

Fear of losing the lion's den intimacy of Windsor Park is a concern for supporters of the province's football team.

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