THE return of senior soccer to the Markets Field from the start of next season remains on track.
Limerick FC - currently riding high at the top of the First Division of the Airtricity League - are hopeful that they will be playing their home fixtures at the old greyhound racing venue from the start of next season.
A move back to the Markets Field could well co-incide with Limerick’s return to top flight of League of Ireland football for the first time in 20 long years.
The Limerick Leader understands that the soccer club hope to lodge a planning application with the local authority in the coming weeks.
Representatives of the Limerick College of Further Education (LCFE) and Limerick Enterprise Development Partnership Ltd (LEDP), who bought the Market’s Field site from Bord na gCon for a sum estimated to be in excess of €1.5 million last year, are also involved in discussions over the possibility of the college being able to benefit from the planned development of the Markets Field site. Agreement between the parties on the matter could see students attending the college being able to use the sports facilities at the renowned venue or lectures being held in the meeting room facilities at the Market’s Field site.
While outlining plans to redevelop the Markets Field last year, Limerick FC Chairman, Pat O’Sullivan stressed that the new facility would be a municipal stadium. The businessman was anxious to stress that the venue would be very much part of the local community. The stadium could be clearly visible from the surrounding neighbourhood. Landscaping work would ensure that the facility would blend in well with the local environment.
It is possible that LCFE may be able to use some of the facilities at the new-look Markets Field to help cater for the college’s increased numbers of students.
Limerick FC plan to install a new floodlit playing surface at the Market’s Field, as well as renovating the existing stand on the site which previously staged greyhound racing.
Limerick FC also envisage installing dressing rooms under the stand, upgrading the bar facilities, opening a new club shop, new club offices and museum.
Should the planning process run smoothly, it is envisaged that phase one work on the site would begin later this autumn and be completed in time to allow Limerick FC play their opening home fixture of next season at the stadium in March.
Over the coming seasons, plans are in place which would see the ground capacity at the Markets Field eventually increased to 8,100. A stand on the existing ‘poplar’ side of the sporting venue is set to cater for some 2,500 spectators.
Two stands will also be developed behind either goal. The design of the existing stand will remain the same as at present so as to maintain the link with the past. The dressing rooms at the re-developed Markets Field will be located under the current stand once re-developed.