Cuala grounds deal falls through

by Gazette Reporter

CUALA GAA and Blackrock RFC have abandoned talks towards securing a deal to share the latter’s sports grounds in Stradbrook, saying the deal had become “unworkable” after more than a year of negotiations.
The ground-sharing contract was expected to cost €2.5m, and Cuala had already secured funding to the tune of €1.1m from its members – an amount that is now expected to be refunded.
Donations to be refunded range from €25 to a large donation of €100,000.
Both sports clubs had signed a memorandum of understanding for a ground purchase/sharing arrangement which would cost €2.5m and was expected to result in the erasure of Blackrock RFC’s current debt of €1.1m.
The abandoned deal involved the sharing of the Stradbrook facility for Gaelic football, rugby, camogie and hurling.
It also included Cuala converting the lower pitches on the site at Stradbrook into all-weather facilities with floodlighting installed.
In a statement issued to more than 2,000 members, the chairman of Cuala, Declan Murray, said: “We are writing to inform you that the decision has been taken to terminate negotiations between Cuala and Blackrock College Rugby Club to enter into a ground sharing agreement.
“There are many reasons for this decision, but both parties concluded that the proposed contract structure would not be workable.
“We had reached advanced agreement with Blackrock but ultimately the deal was not possible due to the complexity of the agreement, the timescales involved and the requirements of both Cuala and BRFC.
“As a club, much has been achieved over the past year, including raising more than €1.1m. We’d like to thank everyone in Cuala who worked on this project and we’d also like to thank the Blackrock team who worked with us over the past year.”
Cuala’s Stradbrook donors were also thanked by the club for their support and will be contacted in due course.
However, the statement by Cuala concluded with a ray of hope for future deals, saying: “Despite this project not proceeding, it has been a positive exercise and as mentioned above we fully expect to have an alternative proposal in the near future.
“We will be in touch with members in the first few months of 2015 with further information.”
Cuala’s development plans now include other options such as working with the council to secure additional facilities and upgrading existing pitches and turning to other sporting facilities to get extra playing facilities.
Sports grounds currently being used by Cuala GAA include Hyde Park in Dalkey, Shankill and Thomastown which are all being leased by the club from the council.
Murray said: “Cuala is almost unique in not owning any grounds and not having guaranteed access to all-weather pitches or hurling walls.
“We have senior players playing for Dublin and we have more than 60 teams who have done extraordinarily well.”
In a communication sent to their members, the president of Blackrock RFC, Seamas Taaffe, attached Cuala GAA’s statement above, adding: “I can confirm that in substance the information is correct in that we have agreed, for a variety of reasons, to bring discussions to an end.”

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