BY CHRIS MCNULTY
FINN Harps’s Ground Development Committe has expressed its delight at the recent progress of the club’s new stadium in Stranorlar.
Indeed, the club’s developers hope to be in a position to see the erection of the roof structure on the main stand by the end of this year.
In the last year significant works have been carried out on the development. On a drive down the Railway Road in Stranorlar, the structure of the main stand – which will also house meeting rooms, an administration block, television gantry and a press box – can now be seen, giving supporters a glimpse into the future.
“The club is delighted with the progress on site over the last year or so, with the structure of the main stand now clearly visible,” said Patsy Lafferty, who is a member of the four-person Ground Development Committee alongside John Meenan, Alex Brady and Alex Harkin.
“This visible progress has given everyone associated with the Club a great lift.
“The preparatory work carried out prior to this was also significant, but obviously wasn’t as visible compared to the structures rising up from the ground this year. This involved site development works, access works, drainage, foundations and so forth.
“The main work this year has involved the erection of the concrete substructures and superstructures of the main stand. The next visible element of work will involve the erection of the steel frame for the roof and the completion of the roof structure to the stand. We hope that this will be advanced before the end of the year.”
Around €1million has been spent on the project which, when completed, will see Harps reside in a state-of-the-art 6,600-seater stadium that will meet UEFA Category 3 requirements.
Harps’ stadium move was first mentioned to shareholders at the AGM of the Finn Harps Co-Operative Society in 2004, though legalities significantly stalled the advancement of the development.
Planning permission for the new stadium, to be located at a site adjacent to the Finn Valley Centre, was granted in 2005, while the tender for the project was awarded to Joseph McMenamin and Sons in 2006, with 2008 seeing the first sod turned on the site.
The recent progress has resulted in enquiries about a completion date.
“This is difficult to determine as it will be dependent on further funding from the Department, and the timing on same,” Mr Lafferty explained.
“The club is anxious to maintain the momentum over the last year or so, and we are confident of a further funding allocation in this regard in the coming months to enable this progress to continue on site.
“While supporters are anxious for news on a completion date, the most important thing is that the project has been maintained ‘live’ through the most difficult economic period in the country for decades. It is a testament therefore to the Department, the FAI and the builder as well as the local Trust and the Council that this is the case. The Development Committee is indebted to all those involved in this regard.
“The overall project comprises of 6,500 seats, and it is likely that same will have to be done over a number of phases, in consultation with the various stakeholders. The majority of the facilities will be incorporated into the side of the ground comprising the main stand that is currently under construction. As a result, we are currently focussing on this side along with various ancillary facilities.”