Euro 2020 vision at HQ

The future is about the only thing you can’t see clearly from Skyline walkway, writes Michael Moynihan

We’ve always been very supportive of other sports when there’s a big national interest involved. I have no doubt that if the guys make a pitch it would be received reasonably within the organisation. There’s no negativity there [with the FAI] — we had a very long period with them while Lansdowne was being rebuilt

TOP OF THE WORLD: Croke Park director Peter McKenna says he hopes tourists will make the Etihad Skyline walkway their first stop in Dublin. Picture: Maxwells

Croke Park director Peter McKenna says an appeal to involve the GAA stadium in any Euro 2020 bid would be “received reasonably” within the GAA.

Speaking yesterday at the launch of the Etihad Skyline walkway around Croke Park, McKenna said a successful bid would be beneficial to Ireland and stressed there was “no negativity” between the GAA and the FAI after their lengthy period of co-operation during the construction of the Aviva Stadium.

“I think it would [boost the country] and we’ve always been very supportive of other sports when there’s a big national interest involved.

“I have no doubt that if the guys make a pitch it would be received reasonably within the organisation. There’s no negativity there [with the FAI] — we had a very long period with them while Lansdowne was being rebuilt. I guess it’s a question of them making a pitch, but we haven’t heard yet.”

McKenna said Croke Park had not been contacted yet in that regard, however. “The only international sport we’re working on at the moment is the NFL — we’re hoping to secure a game there.”

Regarding the Skyline walkway, McKenna outlined the process by which the new tourist attraction was constructed.

“There’s a two to three-month design process, we’re on a cantilevered roof so we have to be conscious of weight and loads. We’d have done a lot of this work when we put up our floodlights.

“We’ve also hung screens from the stands so we’re conscious of the weight that adds as well, as well as factors like wind and snow. The design team was led by SSA Architects and the construction was done by SIAC, so that’s all Irish, which is good.”

The Croke Park boss said he hoped tourists would start their Dublin experience at the stadium.

“That’s a specific aim — that if you’re a tourist, you come out of Dublin Airport and you come down here, and say, ‘Right, this is the city and this is what I want to see’. I think it really adds to the experience — we see this as contributing to Dublin’s tourism offering, because there was never really a vantage point from which to see the city before. In London you go to the London Eye, in Paris you go to the Eiffel Tower, and now you can come here and see what you want to go to within the city.

“And the real avid GAA fan will want to be up here as well, because it gives you a unique view of the Croke Park pitch.”

McKenna added that he and his team had viewed similar arrangements in Munich. “Anyone we mentioned it to said, ‘Wow’, so we went ahead.

“We’d hope to keep it open throughout the year, but while it wouldn’t be unsafe in wet and windy conditions, people just wouldn’t be comfortable up here, and in wintertime you wouldn’t really have it running past four o’clock because it’d be too dark.

“In terms of total numbers, the cost was over €1 million — adding in VAT we’d have spent close to €2.4m — and we’d hope to have 25,000 visitors. That’s a reasonable number when you consider that 90,000 people visit the museum and over 1.5m go through the stadium for games and concerts.

“I’m hopeful, though, that we’ll easily surpass that 25,000 figure — we’re confident this will become one of the most popular attractions in the country.”

The walkway is constructed from 100 tonnes of galvanised steel, creating a 0.6 km walkway — fabricated in Portlaoise — with five viewing platforms at strategic points indicating places of interest on the capital’s skyline. One suspended walkway will bring visitors out over the pitch itself, 17 storeys below.

Visitors must be over 1.2 metres in height to take the tour, which will not operate on match days or when other stadium events are taking place. Tickets cost €25 for adults, €15 for children and €20 for students and seniors: family tickets are €65.

For more information visit www.skylinecrokepark.ie

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