Alliance Sports Spokesperson Michael Long said that news the GAA would use the Maze Stadium had the potential to be a giant step forward for sport in Northern Ireland, adding that it has huge tourist potential for events marking the Titanic and the Olympics in 2012. He was responding to comments by Tony Whitehead from the Strategic Investment Board, indicating the GAA had become the first of the three main sporting bodies to say it would use the new ground.
The Castlereagh Councillor stated: “The opportunity is there for a new stadium for Belfast which would host soccer at the 2012 Olympics, in combination with events to mark the 100th anniversary of the Titanic. We must not lose sight of the prize, for it has potential to turn Belfast into a genuinely major sporting and tourism centre.”
“In this context, the agreement of the GAA to use the new stadium, for example for International Rules matches and some Ulster Championship matches, would be a huge boost for the stadium venture, and for sport in Belfast generally. I trust we will now see similar good news from the soccer and rugby authorities.
“Although I understand concerns about the location of the new venue, it has been chosen precisely because it is the sort of place fans of all three sports could gladly attend. We can see the prize now – it would be unforgivable to let it slip from our grasp.”