The sod-turning and contract signing on the €2m Dundalk Sports Centre redevelopment has been described as a landmark occasion for local government in Dundalk.
It will be the last capital project to be carried out by the town council.
It also marks the dawn of a new phase for the Dundalk Sports Centre as a vital amenity in the town.
The Dundalk Sports Centre which opened in 1982 was built to meet the Council’s community objectives and the sports and leisure needs of people in Muirhevnamor and beyond.
It has one of the largest in-door halls in the county as well as 3 MUGA playing surfaces and a full-sized outdoor FIFA One-Star All-Weather playing pitch.
The Sports Centre catered for a broad range of sports including badminton, basketball, bowls, martial arts, table tennis, five-a-side football, athletics, archery, dance, volleyball and a range of modified games.
It also provides the base for a number of sports clubs, youth sports groups, summer activity programmes and inter-school competitions.
However, despite a facelift in the mid-1990s, the Centre is no longer capable of meeting the sports needs of the growing Dundalk population.
“In its current condition,” said project manager Stephen Cull, “the Sports Centre adds nothing to the Muirhevnamor Park environment nor to the regeneration of the Muirhevnamor area.
“It takes away from the new facilities built in the last few years such as the Clann Naofa Boxing Academy and Muirhevnamor community buildings.
“The proposed new development will improve the look of the area while at the same time providing a much needed modernisation of the sports facility in the Muirhevnamor area and the wider Dundalk town.”
“Dundalk Town Council decided it was time to redevelop the Sports Centre and provide a facility offering better access for people with disabilities, and engaged with the Housing Agency as the architects for the new design of the building. Due to the tight site constraints, numerous design proposals were looked at with the new design approved last year.