New Grosvenor Stadium

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New Grosvenor Stadium
and Drumbo Park
New Grosvenor Stadium Stand - geograph-1445542.jpg
Main football stand
Location 57 Ballyskeagh Road, Lambeg, Lisburn, County Antrim, BT27 5TE, Northern Ireland
Coordinates 54°32'09.4"N 6°00'13.2"W
Date opened 1980
Race type football & greyhound racing
Official website

New Grosvenor Stadium and Drumbo Park is a multi-purpose stadium in Ballyskeagh, County Down, Northern Ireland.[1] It is currently used for football matches and greyhound racing, the latter under the operating name Drumbo Park. The stadium currently has a total capacity of 8,000 of which 790 can be seated, however this is split to a capacity for Football matches of 7,000 {540 seated} and a capacity for Greyhound Racing of 1,000 {250 seated}.

History[edit]

The stadium was built originally as a trotting venue in the village of Ballyskeagh on the outskirts of Lisburn and was acquired by Distillery Football Club and converted into a football ground in 1980. The club named the venue New Grosvenor Park after their previous home in Belfast, which had been damaged by a fire bomb attack in 1971 and then demolished to make way for the building of a motorway link through the city in 1972.

The stadium was modified in the mid-1980s to accommodate Greyhound Racing under the operating name of Ballyskeagh Greyhound Track, rebranded as Drumbo Park in 2009, and continues to be a duel venue accommodating both Soccer and Greyhound Racing as independent bodies.

The Stadium contains four distinct structures, two on the east side of the ground and two on the west, three of which are operated by Lisburn Distillery, the club having added Lisburn to their name in 1999, and a fourth operated solely by Drumbo Park. The two companies do not allow the shared use of their spectator facilities, meaning that the Drumbo Park stand is closed during football matches, which are advertised as taking place at New Grosvenor Park while the Morton McKnight Stand, Social Club and Visiting covered terrace are all closed during Greyhound Racing meets, which are advertised as taking place at Drumbo Park. It used to host 1 Irish Cup Semi - Final every year until the Greyhound Association took the franchise of the ground of Lisburn Distillery.

Location and Access[edit]

The Stadium is on the Ballyskeagh Road, a B route between Lisburn and Belfast at the small village of Ballyskeagh itself, situated three miles from Lisburn and one and a half miles from the village of Lambeg, where the nearest train station is located. The road is served by Ulsterbus rural services to and from Belfast-Lisburn.

The entrance to the stadium itself is marked with signs welcoming spectators to both New Grosvenor Stadium and Drumbo Park with a single lane track taking spectators to the car parking facilities, much of which is in a poor state of repair.

Football[edit]

The Morton McKnight Stand[edit]

The Morton McKnight Stand is the main spectator section of the Football stadium, situated on the East side or Lambeg side of the ground and was built shortly after Lisburn Distillery acquired the venue in 1980. It covers roughly half the Lambeg side of the ground from the half way line to the goal and is laid out in dark blue flip up plastic seating with white seats spelling out the word Whites, being the club nickname. The stand seats 527 spectators, including 25 seats in the directors box. The stand also houses a journalist's commentary box to its rear.

Lisburn Distillery Social Club and Offices[edit]

The Distillery social club and offices sit on the same side of the stadium as the Morton McKnight stand occupying the area situated on the other side of the half way line. The facilities are situated in one building, separated from the Morton McKnight Stand by a large tarmac paddock and does not offer any terracing or seated stand, although many spectators chose to stand and watch games from the paddock situated between the facilities and the pitch. The club and offices is a two story building containing a social club on the upper level with bar, television and a small dance floor for social events. The windows on one side of the social club are whitewashed to prevent patrons from being able to view the football from inside. The club is most commonly accessed from a fire escape, which leads spectators down to the paddock between the social club and Morton McKnight Stand. The upper floor also contains a small toilet block and executive lounge. The executive lounge is the only official spectator facility in the building and consists of a small function room with its own private bar and viewing box. The box offers seating for thirteen spectators while the lounge accommodates around thirty. The Executive lounge is open to any spectator wishing to purchase a season ticket to view matches there and also hosts the match sponsors.

The lower deck contains the club offices, boardroom, dressing rooms and player's tunnel as well as a smaller function room, which is usually only opened for matches against opponents that can generate an attendance that breaks the 1,000 mark. Irish League clubs do not officially record attendances but Lisburn Distillery receipts suggest their average attendances sit at around 300 to 400. The small function room is accessed through the club shop, which also houses a small club museum containing medals, International caps, banners, old shirts, programmes and euphemia from the club's history.

Beside the social club is a large undeveloped paddock where the only food on offer on match days is provided by a fixed burger van.

The Visiting Covered Terrace[edit]

The covered terrace is situated on the west or Belfast side of the ground and is essentially a covered terrace of fifteen tiers with a paddock at the back. This section of the ground is often the most popular place for the most vocal fans of visiting clubs to gather, however segregation is rarely required at Lisburn Distillery games and home and visiting fans are allowed to sit or stand wherever they wish in the spectator facilities offered for Football. The terrace can safely accommodate 1,500 spectators. The terrace occupies an area of around one third the length of the ground.

Behind the goals[edit]

Neither end of the ground has been developed and each end has been 'claimed' by the two operating companies for their use. The Ballyskeagh end of the ground is little more than a loose gravel track that takes spectators from the Lambeg side of the ground to the covered terrace on match days. The entrances to the covered terrace were situated on the Belfast side of the ground but are no longer accessible without arrangement from Drumbo Park as the Greyhound operators erected security gates outside the ground, blocking access to these entrances in 2009. Viewing of Football from here is allowed but few fans view from here as the location of the Greyhound track places the path some distance away from the goal.

The opposite end or River Lagan end for location purposes is used by the Drumbo Park greyhound facilities as the kennels and greyhound preparation area on race nights. Curiously this area is accessible from the Morton McKnight stand during Football matches but is not accessible by spectators of the Drumbo Park Greyhound Stand at its other end. As at the other end of the ground, there is no interest for spectators to view the game from behind this goal and, as this end does not provide access to the stands on the other side of the ground, remains unused during Football matches.

Greyhound Racing[edit]

History[edit]

Northern Irish greyhound tracks are unusual in the sport of greyhound racing due to the fact that they do not fall within the jurisdiction of the Greyhound Board of Great Britain. Instead the Irish Greyhound Board oversee proceedings.

A greyhound track called Ballyskeagh was constructed in early 1994 and became Belfast's only circuit following the 1996 closure of Dunmore Stadium. Distances covered were 375, 525, 550, 575, 600 & 880 yards. The Irish Greyhound Board did not fund the track and this was a major factor in the closure of the stadium to greyhound racing during October 2005 after struggling for many years. [2]

Thankfully in 2010 the track re-opened with the new name Drumbo Park with state of the art facilities. A 350-seat grandstand restaurant took centre stage under a new era and racing takes place every Friday and Saturday. A major new event was introduced for the first time, the Northern Irish Derby, the event was sponsored by Bettor.com and carried a £25,000 prize, the richest ever held in Northern Ireland. The event lost some status two years later after the prize money was cut.[3]

Although there are four structures around the track and pitch they are used independently by the football club and greyhound company. The liaison between the two seems to work well with the football ground closing at 6.30pm and the greyhounds opening straight after.

Drumbo Park Stand[edit]

Drumbo Park Stand

The Drumbo Park Stand is operated independently by Drumbo Park Greyhound Racing and is not open to spectators during Football matches, in turn this is the only area of the ground open during Greyhound Racing and is accessed from the opposite side of the stadium from the main Football facilities. This is the newest stand in the stadium, having been built in 2008 and is purpose built for Greyhound Racing with a large, indoor, glass fronted spectator restaurant making up the majority of the stand with a small spectator paddock outside to the front. The restaurant is a la carte and offers seating for 250 racegoers with Tote operators on hand for betting. Spectators need to book in advance to ensure a seat or they can stand in the front paddock, which accommodates 750 spectators and has bookmakers booths trackside.

Competitions[edit]

Football and Greyhound use[edit]

Greyhound track around football pitch

The two organisations situated at New Grosvenor Stadium co-exists on an icy basis[citation needed] of minimal co-operation and do not offer their facilities to each other's events or co-operate in offering combined spectator packages for combined events. Indeed, Drumbo Park have placed a dress code ban on the wearing of football related clothing in its stand. The nature of the two markets the Football Club and Greyhound Stadium are aiming at are also quite different. New Grosvenor is aimed at the traditional Football fan and promotes itself as a family day out to the local Lisburn market whereas Drumbo Park caters for the hen party, stag night, office party and couples night out market aiming its advertising at the whole of the UK and Ireland.[citation needed] Both operators recognise that there is little cross over in their respective markets and as a result have made no attempt to offer combined marketing packages.[citation needed]

There is only minimal infringement by one organisation's events over the other's as Greyhound racing is traditionally an evening event while Football is traditionally reserved for afternoons. Drumbo Park are restricted however to hosting meetings on Thursday-Saturday evenings only as Lisburn Distillery play many evening fixtures on Tuesdays and Wednesdays while the Irish League also occasionally stage Monday night games for television purposes, though, as of 2010, Lisburn have yet to feature in a live Monday night game. Conversely Lisburn Distillery have been unable to try out a switch to Friday evening Football as some other Irish League teams have done in a bid to increase attendances due to the Greyhound Friday night meet. There also seems to be few issues with both organisations staging events on a Saturday as New Grosvenor Park is usually vacated by 6.30PM when Drumbo Park opens its doors to spectators.[citation needed]

References[edit]


External links[edit]

Coordinates: 54°32′9″N 6°0′13″W / 54.53583°N 6.00361°W / 54.53583; -6.00361