Connacht GAA Air Dome set to be completed this year
By Cian O'Connell
Connacht GAA hope to open a new Air Dome facility at the Centre of Excellence in Bekan this year.
Already €2.1 million of Government funding has been secured through the Rural Regeneration Fund for the project which will feature a playing pitch and office space.
Work will commence in July following the John West Feile na nGael which is being staged in the west.
It has envisaged that it will take five months to construct the dome.
Connacht GAA Games Development Manager Cathal Cregg believes the new facility will be hugely significant. "The one we are building here will be the biggest sports one in the world," Cregg says.
"There is one in Finland which is 130x80 built last December. It is the only one of comparable size, the biggest dome in the world is in South Korea 200x300 metres - it is a recycling plant, but this will be the biggest dome in the world.
"The dome will be 150x100 metres and the playing surface will be the same as Castlebar. It will be 26 metres high."
"The main focus of the Dome will be to have a facility that all clubs and counties can play and participate in Coaching and Games. That will be based around our six key areas - Youth Games Opportunities, Child Games Opportunities, Academies, Schools Initiatives, Cul Camps, Learning and Development. All these initiatives will then be implemented in the clubs and counties around the province."
A minimum of 600 spectators will be catered for at the new venue and Connacht GAA Secretary John Prenty is encouraged about the development. "We've had a number of FBD League fixtures played here in terrible conditions, if we had the dome we'd have played them inside.
"There will be 600 seats inside minimum. We will move all the day to day working of Coaching and Games Development into the facility. It has huge potential.
"This isn't going to be any financial burden on the counties or clubs in Connacht. The day it is opened it will be paid for."