The success of the Ed Sheeran concerts in Cork, which were worth an estimated €60m to the local economy, has given the city a taste of what an events centre could deliver, business leaders said yesterday.
As the Sheeran juggernaut rolls on to Belfast tomorrow, Cork’s lord mayor, Councillor Tony Fitzgerald, led tributes to all involved in the staging and organising of the concerts, including Aiken Promotions, Páirc Uí Chaoimh, Bus Éireann, gardaí, support services, and council staff.
Michael O’Donovan, chairman of the Cork branch of the VFI, said:
Tánaiste Simon Coveney, who attended Saturday’s gig, said the success of the concerts, attended by some 130,000 people, proves Cork needs to have big events on a weekly basis in an indoor arena.
Despite a funding deal being agreed in principal in January, which would see the State investing €30m to secure delivery of the venue, and BAM and Live Nation coughing up another €5m each, there is still no sign of construction starting on the proposed €73m venue on the former Beamish and Crawford site.
Mr Coveney said the funding deal is still in place but that several government departments are still finalising complex legal issues around individual funding streams.
“I take the criticism that we’ve created the expectation and haven’t got it across the line in the timeline that was predicted,” he said.
“That doesn’t mean that it’s not being done. It means that there’s a lot of due diligence within government departments to make sure that decisions are being made that they can stand over in the future if they are tested and challenged.
“That caution is not unusual in government departments and it’s not a bad thing either.”
Mr Coveney pointed out the Government injected €30m into the revamp of Páirc Uí Chaoimh. “Government, I think in taking that risk, helped facilitate the success story we’ve seen over the last three nights.
“And we’re going to do the same for an indoor area which is a more complex financial ask.
“Cynics and critics don’t get things built. They tend to actually pull things down.
Meanwhile, Ed Sheeran met Amelia, the daughter of Vicky Phelan, the woman who exposed the smear test scandal, before his final Cork gig on Sunday night.
Vicky tweeted a photograph of Amelia and Ed yesterday, saying: “We are ‘keeping this love in a photograph’.”