The home of Ulster Rugby is set to undergo a transformation as major plans for the redevelopment of Ravenhill were announced this morning.
Work will begin later this month and the three new stands are expected to be finished in the summer of 2014 after the province was awarded funding of almost £15 million by the Northern Irish government for the project.
The redevelopment will increase the capacity of the ground from 11,400 to 18,000. The club is currently in discussions with a number of interested parties over naming rights to the revamped ground.
Northern Ireland’s Culture, Arts and Leisure Minister Carál Ní Chuilín officially gave the go ahead for the project to begin and released the £14.7 million government grant.
The construction will be completed in stages to minimize disruption. The first phase will see new stands built at the Memorial and Aquinas ends by next June. Then the main stand will be demolished and a completely new structure built.
Ulster rugby chief executive Shane Logan hailed the redevelopment. “On behalf of Ulster Rugby, I would like to thank the Minister and her department for releasing this funding,” he said.
“This investment will create a modern, state-of-the-art stadium with the highest standard of facilities for both supporters and players. The new Ravenhill will enhance the position of Ulster rugby in the world game and will greatly benefit the development of rugby in the Province.”
The increased capacity of the ground will mean it is eligible to host the Rabodirect PRO 12 final or a Heineken Cup quarter final.