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Published: 19:18 | 18/5/16

Connacht eye new 10,000 capacity stadium

Connacht chief executive Willie Ruane says the province will move from the Sportsground if it proves impossible to increase the stadium's capacity to 10,000.

The Galway stadium will be at 7,800 capacity for Saturday’s Guinness Pro12 semi-final against Glasgow Warriors, and Ruane says Connacht could have sold double that number.

Speaking at the launch of their ‘Vision and Strategy’ document at the Aviva Stadium, the former Connacht player said that negotiations had already begun with co-tenants the Irish Greyhound Board [IGB].

The Sportsground is owned by The Galway Agricultural and Sports Trust, who lease the venue to Connacht and the IGB.

"The stadium is something we have as one of our utmost priorities," Ruane said.

"We’re clear that we’ll quickly reach a ceiling in terms of where we’re at. Whether that’s capacity or the experience, we’ve done a lot of work as to what we believe a stadium should look like and how big it should be."

Ruane admits that moving from the Sportsground and building a new stadium is an option if negotiations with the IGB do not prove fruitful.

"We have two options, one is staying and we’re in discussion with the IGB and it has to be a shared vision," he continued.

"The other is moving and we believe we have some strong potential in that area. There’s a considerable amount of work to be done.

"We don’t want to have fans outside who can’t get in and we want those who do get in get the experience that they deserve.

"Around 10,000 would be a decent starting point and something that if, on a given day, we needed more, would have the potential to do that.

"The last thing we want to do is build something that’s too big and end up with something that we outgrow very quickly."

The province’s strategic document also sets targets of Champions Cup qualification every season and a Champions Cup play-off match before 2020.

The province also want to achieve an average of four players in Ireland’s match-day squads by 2020.

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