New stadium gets go ahead

Ards FC's long-awaited return to Newtownards took a step closer this week with the announcement that the Planning Service is to approve the construction of a stadium at Londonderry Park.

A meeting of Ards Borough Council on Tuesday evening was advised by planning officials that the council could proceed with their 3.8 million plan to redevelop the Portaferry Road site.

The plans include the upgrading of existing grass pitches, installation of new synthetic football and hockey pitches, replacement cricket square and pavilion as well as the centre-piece partly-seated arena incorporating a third generation surface.

It is the arena complex which Ards FC will be able to utilise and which will be future-proofed to allow for easier upgrading to Premiership standards should the need arise.

Associated works began at Londonderry Park a week ago to improve the surface and drainage of existing pitches as well as re-locating the cricket square.

Throughout 2009, a group of Ards supporters banded together under the Bring Ards FC Home slogan to publicise the club's need to return home. The group organised a highly successful media campaign and held discussions with a number of elected representatives.

The football club has been homeless since 2001 when former grounds a stone's throw from the new site were sold to pay off creditors. The club currently shares facilities with Ballyclare Comrades, some 25 miles from Newtownards.

14th October 2010