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...and Ireland joins the fun

IN recent days Irish property developer Jim Mansfield has announced that he is considering the construction of a racing circuit near Dublin, in Ireland, with the intention of bidding for an Irish Grand Prix. The project would be linked to the construction of a football stadium nearby.

The only problem is that in recent months there has been a battle over whether there should be a privately-funded stadium or whether the Irish government will fund a bigger sporting complex in the same area. Mansfield's plans appear to be linked to the stadium being planned by the Football Association of Ireland, which is working with Deutsche Bank and sports promotion company IMG on a 45,000 seat arena which would be ready in the autumn of 2001 at a cost of $100m.

The National Sports Council however wants to be build a bigger and better facility - capable of housing 80,000 on a 300-acre green field site close to Dublin. A government-funded feasibility study was carried out last year and there are believed to be three or four potential sites and some of the funding is already in place thanks to a $80m donation from businessman JP McManus.

There is some logic in an Irish Grand Prix, given that Jordan Grand Prix is now a leading team in F1 and there is much interest in the career of Ulsterman Eddie Irvine (who lives in Dublin). Funding such an idea is, however, likely to be very difficult.

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