THE Brandywell Stadium and Greyhound Track were officially opened by Mayor of Derry and Strabane District Council, Cllr. Maolíosa McHugh on Wednesday.
And to mark the occasion local schoolchildren took part in a variety of sports on the new 3G pitch while greyhound activities took place on the adjacent dog track.
The £7 million Brandywell Regeneration Project is one of the key strategic capital projects identified in the Strategic Growth Plan and is funded by Council and the Social Investment Fund (SIF) under the NI Executive’s Delivering Social Change framework.
Mayor McHugh was joined by Dr Mark Browne, SIF SRO from the Executive Office, Social Investment Fund officials, elected representatives, stakeholders and council officers for the opening.
Phase one of the regeneration works have been in use by a range of stakeholders since the site contractor handed ownership back to the Council in early March.
Invited guests took a tour of the facilities on Wednesday afternoon before Mayor McHugh performed the official opening where he congratulated everyone who played a role in bringing the project to fruition and acknowledged the funders who made the project possible.
“I am delighted and proud to have the honour of opening this stunning new facility which offers state of the art sports and leisure provision to the City and District,” he said. “The £7m investment by Council and the Northern Ireland Executive’s Social Investment Fund is one of the most significant and ambitious capital development projects we have ever undertake.
“I was fortunate to attend the first soccer game at the stadium where Derry City entertained Limerick FC as well as the first use of the dog track by the greyhound fraternity and it was a fantastic sight to see this brand new facility being used and enjoyed by the people it was built for.”
The Brandywell Regeneration Project includes a new 955 seater stand incorporating new changing rooms, media facilities, meeting spaces, safety control centre, along with standing accommodation for 270 spectators that will bring the existing capacity of the ground to approximately 3,700.
The development also included a new synthetic turf pitch, a standalone dog track, the refurbishment of the South End stand and additional car parking and substantial improvement works across the stadium, including the replacement of the boundary walls to the wider Brandywell site.
The facility has hosted five Derry City games in the League of Ireland Premier Division games since it was opened to the public last month as well as local junior and underage soccer games, greyhound race meetings and underage rugby and GAA blitzes.
Council also provided the public with tours of the stadium and local sports clubs took up the opportunity to train on the new synthetic pitch in free taster sessions.