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Green light for Ravenhill Stadium overhaul

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Northern Ireland environment minister Alex Attwood has approved planning permission for the redevelopment of Belfast's Ravenhill Stadium, which is home to the Ulster Rugby team.

Plans to renovate the remaining three sides of the venue were lodged in August 2010, after a new stand was built and terracing improved on the Mount Merrion side the year before.

The scheme received a boost last March when the Northern Ireland Executive awarded Ulster Rugby nearly £15m of funding through Sport Northern Ireland towards the proposals.

Work will be undertaken in phases and will feature a new Memorial End Stand with covered seating for 2,500 people, as well as terracing for 1,350 and an educational centre.

Meanwhile, the Aquinas End stand is to provide a family-orientated atmosphere with seating for around 3,200 people; medical and treatment rooms; and team changing facilities.

After work is completed at the Memorial and Aquinas ends of the ground, work will start on the demolition and replacement of the grandstand, which will house 3,200 spectators.

Once the redevelopment scheme is fully complete, Ravenhill Stadium will have a capacity of 18,200 and will be capable of hosting a PRO12 final or Heineken Cup quarter-final.

Ulster Rugby chief executive Shane Logan said: "A modern, fit-for-purpose and spectator-friendly stadium will enhance Ulster Rugby's standing and will assist the development of the sport from the grassroots through to international levels.

"The development at Ravenhill will not only benefit our sport but will have wider benefits for health, tourism and the Northern Ireland economy."

Details: www.ulsterrugby.com

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Northern Ireland environment minister Alex Attwood has approved planning permission for the redevelopment of Belfast's Ravenhill Stadium, which is home to the Ulster Rugby team.
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