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A 42,000-seat sports stadium on the site of the old Maze prison in County Antrim, Northern Ireland, is one step closer to fruition after the government announced a masterplan for the project.

The redevelopment would total around £1bn and, alongside the sports stadium, would also include a hotel, bars, cafés, restaurants, a multi-screen cinema and possible ice rink, as well as public open space, sports and children’s play areas for the existing local community.

The stadium itself would host football, rugby and Gaelic Athletic Association games.

The 360-acre Maze prison – also known as Long Kesh – was associated with many violent and disturbing episodes, including the deaths of wardens and IRA hunger strikes.

The minister responsible for the project, David Hanson MP, said: “The opportunity now exists to turn security and military assets, for so long associated with conflict, into symbols and engines of economic and social regeneration, renewal and growth.”

A competition to appoint a multi-disciplinary design team will be published in The European Journalshortly.

The successful team will work with a government-led Stadium Design Steering Group which will include representatives of the Sports Council for Northern Ireland and the governing bodies of the three sports to take forward a detailed design process for the stadium.

The project would also include an International Centre for Conflict Transformation, which Paul Butler, deputy chair of the Maze/Long Kesh Monitoring Group, said symbolises “where we have come from in this society and points us in the direction of where we want to go”. Details: www.ofmdfmni.gov.uk

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A 42,000-seat sports stadium on the site of the old Maze prison in County Antrim, Northern Ireland, is one step closer to fruition after the government announced a masterplan for the project.
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