Limerick could be in line for international ‘sports hub’

Alan Owens

Reporter:

Alan Owens

LIMERICK is superbly positioned to develop an international sports hub that could mirror the success of the Irish Financial Services Centre in Dublin, it has been claimed.

LIMERICK is superbly positioned to develop an international sports hub that could mirror the success of the Irish Financial Services Centre in Dublin, it has been claimed.

While similar tax breaks to those granted to the development of businesses in the IFSC would likely not be available to a sporting centre in Limerick, gathering together the various sporting industries in the region could lead to the development of an International Sports Services Centre, Focus Consulting analyst Mark O’Connell has suggested.

Shannon Development and other local bodies are thought to be at the advanced stages of examining such an idea, the Limerick Leader understands.

Mr O’Connell gave a presentation recently at a conference marking Limerick’s year as European City of Sport, which stressed the existing “sports cluster industry in the Mid-West (would) be the launch pad to having an international sports services centre” in Limerick.

It was claimed at the conference by Shannon Development that sporting fixtures and sports-related activities are now worth €70 million to the economy of the Shannon region, while the city’s year as City of Sport generated an additional €10 million in revenues over 2011.

“You have everything else down here, the infrastructure, the people, the talent, access through the airport. There is still the ability to attract investment to the region,” Mr O’Connell further explained this week.

“It is going to grow legs I think. Some of the local bodies are certainly very interested in developing the idea a bit further. Shannon Development and LIT have expressed an interest, UL would be a natural fit as well. There are so many regional organisations here and people in the area with a direct involvement with the sports industry so why not harness it all together?”

Shannon Development recently unveiled plans to open an office in Limerick next year to capitalise on the Government’s idea of a global Irish homecoming in 2013.

The body said it was determined to get a slice of the action, stating it “has the potential to generate an additional €23 million in revenue for the Shannon region in 2013”.

Eoghan Prendergast, Shannon Development’s Limerick development division manager, confirmed that there are plans to push for an international sports hub to be based in Limerick.

“We will be targeting sports federations and sports business to come and locate in Limerick and run their operations from here,” he said.