What’s a committed Larne FC supporter (pictured) doing standing in the centre circle of Ballymena Showgrounds with his foot on a spade?
Relax Sky Blues fans! The Mayor of Mid and East Antrim, also chaplain of the Inver Reds, is inviting you to snap up a piece of Ballymena United’s playing surface while supporting vital lifeline services for vulnerable people.
Work is getting underway on the main arena with the current pitch being replaced over the coming weeks. And the redevelopment is to be used as an opportunity to net a cash windfall for first citizen Cllr Paul Reid’s charitable cause.
Supporters can get their hands on their very own square of the hallowed turf – with the £10 raised from each one going to help mental health and addiction groups.
Mr Reid said: “My charitable cause ‘Building Stronger People’ supports the work of the Mid and East Antrim Policing and Community Safety Partnership’s Drugs and Alcohol Steering Group. Mental health and addiction issues are extremely important to me and there is a lot of great work happening across Ballymena, Carrickfergus and Larne.
“The selling off of the old surface will give football fans the chance to purchase a unique piece of sporting memorabilia and support local charities. For just £10, we will provide fans with their very own square foot of the Showgrounds pitch.
“Addiction and mental health problems often go hand in hand and with Northern Ireland having the highest rate of suicide in the UK we need to ensure we do everything we can to promote what help is out there.”
Anybody wishing to purchase a sod is asked to make payment at council’s Ardeevin offices before collecting their piece at the Showgrounds.
The ground improvements are part of a substantial investment by council. Contractors will arrive on the site on Monday, May 21 and over the coming days will remove the current pitch in order to revamp drainage and lay a new playing surface.
The Mayor added: “This will improve drainage and the quality of the playing surface to ensure it meets European standards.
“Ballymena Showgrounds is a multi-use venue and council continues to work closely with all users to ensure it remains one of Northern Ireland’s premier facilities.
“In the past year the venue has hosted several top sporting events, including the SuperCupNI, Uefa Women’s Under-19 Championship and World Stock Rod Championships.
“We look forward to more superb events taking place at Ballymena Showgrounds once the improvements have been carried out.”
The work is set to be completed in September of this year to ensure minimal disruption to Showgrounds users.