Sky’s the limit for Ravenhill as famous stadium writes new chapter

Ulster CEO, Shane Logan, who led a tour for the media of the redeveloped Ravenhill
Ulster CEO, Shane Logan, who led a tour for the media of the redeveloped Ravenhill

Ravenhill Stadium will be the centre piece of Europe this weekend when the Heineken Cup quarter finals are staged.

There are three ties on Saturday and broadcasters, Sky TV, will host them all from the Belfast venue.

Ulster will take on Saracens at 6.30pm, the final game of the day, after Munster and Toulouse meet at Thomond Park and ASM Clermont face Leicester Tigers in France.

Although it may have been from a logistics point of view for the TV company, the fact that the multi-million pound redeveloped Ravenhill will host its first game in the new stadium may have been a major factor in the decision.

It is another chapter in the history of the famous ground with a capacity crowd of just over 17,000 setting a new attendance record.

The ground will be officially opened next month when Ulster host Leinster in the RaboDirect PRO12 and while the development will not be fully completed until February next year it is ready to host a first home quarter-final in Europe since 1999.

Ulster Rugby chief executive officer, Shane Logan, explained that it was never in the contract that everything would be finished in time for the Heineken Cup game.

“The ground is ready functionally to occupy this weekend. There is still some work to complete.

“While the capacity will be just over 18,000, we are licensed to cater for just over 17,000 this Saturday.”

Logan added: “It is exciting to have got to this stage. But we consider ourselves at being at the starting line rather than the finishing line.”

That is in respect of the plans and vision for the future the organisation has as they spread out to all corners of the Province.

Media from various outlets across Ulster got a guided tour of the redeveloped stadium and all left suitably impressed.

It was the attention to detail which really impressed.

To pick out a few highlights there is a guide dog toilet, special seating for the visually impaired positioning of grand stand seats so that anyone standing up or celebrating do not block the view of those in the disabled seating area.

The new stand provision will give 2000 additional hospitality spaces.