New bid for Olympic Watersports Centre on track says group

PORTADOWN 2000 has confirmed that the town's rebid for an Olympic Watersports Centre is well underway.

A design team, lead by Consarc Design Group, and business consultants, KPMG, have been appointed, and Portadown 2000 say work is rapidly progressing to meet the deadline for the second stage of the competition.

The project had appeared to be dead in the water after funding from Craigavon Borough Council was controversially withdrawn earlier this year.

However, Portadown 2000 says it is still realistic to bring the Olympic Centre to the town.

Portadown’s proposal is one of a number of projects assessed by Sport Northern Ireland to proceed to stage two of the competition. The town now has until November 28 to prepare an additional outline business case, with the final selection process taking place five months after the November deadline.

Recommendations of which applicants will proceed to the construction stage will then be announced by June/July next year, the lengthy process being indicative of the importance placed on selecting the right project to benefit from the 2012 Olympic legacy.

Brian Walker, chairman of Portadown 2000, said, “Portadown 2000 is very pleased to move forward to the next stage of the bidding process for a Northern Ireland Olympic Watersports Centre (NIOWC).

“This promises to be a sporting venue of truly international significance that will not only enhance sport participation across the Province and the Island of Ireland but will also provide a lasting legacy for the potential Olympic athletes of the future. Portadown 2000 views the ancilliary benefits of the Centre as equally important to this sporting legacy.

“The 2km regeneration along the banks of the Bann will create a spectacular recreational space to be enjoyed by all. NIOWC has the potential to put Ireland on the sporting map, and the River Bann on the list of desirable places to visit.”

The centrepiece of the proposed Northern Ireland Olympic Watersports Centre would be a 2000 metre international competition rowing and canoeing lake, as well as an international triathlon training facility.

Portadown 2000 and the design team are investigating the addition of a whitewater canoe slalom feature which would not only add to the sporting provision but create an exciting attraction for public participation.

Once completed, the centre will be the permanent home of Portadown Boat Club, which has been an integral part of the town's sporting life from 1877.