New signing Timothy Stewart in action for Portlaoise Panthers.
The site of a former thriving shopping centre in Portlaoise which has been vacant for a number of years is being considered for a huge new sports arena in the town.
A needs analysis survey was carried out with sports clubs in Laois to determine if a new indoor sports facility is needed in Portlaoise.
The results of the survey are understood to outline a need for an arena to cater to basketball and athletics among other sports. This is being analysed by senior council management.
It is understood that up to eight sites around Portlaoise have been discussed as a possible location for the new sports arena if funding is secured.
One of the sites up for consideration is the former Centrepoint shopping centre site on the Mountrath Road, Portlaoise owned by members of the Shaw family.
Other sites considered include the existing Leisure Centre site at St Brigid’s Place and possible sites at Aghnaharna.
The main focus is believed to be on the Centrepoint site which was rezoned at a Laois County Council meeting last year.
Chief Executive of Laois County Council, John Mulholland, decided at the time that the site should be rezoned from residential to ‘Mixed Use’.
This opened up the possibility of having residential, community buildings, civic buildings, entertainment, hotels, leisure and recreation, offices, professional / specialist services or restaurants developed on the site.
Ann Marie Maher in the council’s sports section told the Leinster Express the results of the needs analysis survey are under discussion with senior council management and the deadline for applying for funding for this site is tomorrow, Wednesday, April 17.
Portlaoise councillors have said that they will push for this sports facility to be a big arena with the capacity for hosting a multitude of different events attracting people into the county.
It is understood the consultants who carried out the survey will assist Laois County Council with the funding application to the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport under the Large Scale Capital Infrastructure Fund aimed at funding a full feasibility study to design stage.
Cllr Caroline Dwane Stanley said she believes a need for the sports arena has been identified.
“In my opinion, they have identified there is a need as far as we can see the report served to back up that there is a need,” she said.
Cllr Dwane Stanley added there is no point in building a 'Mickey Mouse' facility now that the opportunity is there it should be planned for big events and with potential to expand.