Bit late with this one up but Ulster Rugby announced a couple of days ago that Ravenhill Stadium will be officially opened on Friday 2nd May ahead of the RaboDirect PRO12 game against Leinster.
A one hour, pre-match event will see a celebration of rugby in Ulster, with representatives from schools, clubs, referees, the women’s game and disability rugby all participating. The event will culminate in the cutting of a ribbon and the stadium being declared formally open.
The very first game played at Ravenhill was Ulster v Leinster on 12th January 1924.
Three new stands, funded by an investment by DCAL of almost £16 million, have been built at the ground as part of the redevelopment. Capacity has increased from 11,000 to 18,000 and the ground is now capable of hosting a Heineken Cup quarter-final and a RaboDirect PRO12 final.
The stadium will host the Heineken Cup quarter-final between Ulster and Saracens on 5th April. Following that game further fit-out work will be carried out on the Grandstand ahead of the official May opening.
Work on the new Nevin Spence Centre, an education and heritage centre, based in the new Memorial End Stand, a new community 3G pitch facility and other improvements will start in the summer.
Commenting on the opening, Ulster Rugby Chief Executive, Shane Logan, said:
“The new Ravenhill Stadium is a world class stadium and a state of the art home for all of rugby in Ulster.
“We have some exciting plans for the opening and I have no doubt that it will truly be a once in a lifetime event for any Ulster Rugby fan.”
With the confusion surrounding the Italian, and possibly the Welsh, participation in the PRO12 and the stalemate over European competition it still remains in doubt how many matches will be played there next season.
Hopefully things will be clearer after the summit meeting today – details here on the BBC.