A process that could lead to a major new sports hall in Portlaoise has started with a survey for clubs in the area.
A company has been commissioned by Laois County Council to conduct a ‘Needs Analysis Report’ to identify the demand for a purpose-built sports hall.
The survey for clubs/organisations asks questions about facilities that are already available, how many hours a week they are used. It seeks information on the ownership of existing facilities, club satisfaction, problems, limitations and restrictions with existing facilities and the impact of this on the club or/ organisation.
The Portlaoise Panthers basketball club has campaigned for a sports hall because it wants its own base. It rents St Mary's Hall.
Panther's chairperson Shay Dooley said Portlaoise is a central location for attracting sports tournaments and camps.
"Portlaoise Panthers fully supports the call for a new indoor sports venue as we have exceeded the capacity of St Marys Hall. We are the largest sports club in Portlaoise without their own facility. The constraints of renting a single court venue is affecting the clubs development particularly for Juvenile players and limit the contribution the Panthers makes to the local community.
"The Panthers are the most successful basketball club in the Midlands region and recognised nationwide as a high performing club. We have won All Ireland Cups and have several players on national teams and with this proven record we are keen to achieve even more in the future ahead.
"We are participating in this feasibility study by Laois County Council and are happy to liaise with anyone to progress this important proposal. We are confident a new indoor sports venue would be successful for both sport and for socio-economic reasons due to the central location of Portlaoise for attracting tournaments and training camps," he said.
There are existing sports halls in Portlaoise schools and St Mary's Hall but no purpose-built indoor hall for local clubs to use as a base.
Portlaoise GAA's plan fell foul of the property crash.