Cork’s redeveloped Páirc Uí Chaoimh stadium will be finished next June and available, if required, to host the Munster football and hurling finals as its first major fixtures, officials said today, writes Tony Leen, Sports Editor Irish Examiner.
Progress on the rebuild was updated today ahead of the launch of the stadium’s Premium Level Ticket Scheme. The “PRIORITY at Páirc Uí Chaoimh” scheme is limited to 2,000 seats which are located at the second tier of the South Stand and are priced at €6,500 for a ten-year ticket.
Officials pledged that the experience of spectators, players and officials at the new Páirc Uí Chaoimh will be spectacularly different to the previous stadium which was opened 40 years ago. In terms of facilities, space and patron comfort, Páirc Uí Chaoimh will be among the best to be found anywhere, according to County Board chairman, Gerard Lane.
“The Páirc Uí Chaoimh Stadium and Centre of Excellence set the bar very high. The Board is very proud that in the summer of next year we will have a stadium to rank with any other. The GAA public deserves top class, modern facilities to house its games and to meet today’s expectations”, he said.
The stadium will have uninterrupted views throughout, with covered seating for 21,000 spectators and a capacity for 24,000 on extended terraces. The stadium will be the first in Ireland to meet EU standards and the first to have LED lighting.
Páirc Uí Chaoimh will have 32 hot food kiosks, shops and bars and separate entry to all areas at all levels. Access to the stadium will be through 72 turnstiles, twice the previous number, and there are 20 exits from the stadium with an emergency exit time of 6.5 minutes.
Officials added that large circulation space inside and outside the stadium will enhance the experience of everyone attending the facility. It will be the first stadium to be located within a Municipal Park, Marina Park, which is being developed by Cork City Council.
Player facilities will be amongst the best in the country and will feature large dressing rooms, warm-up areas, physio and rehab facilities, gymnasium and a full scale all-weather pitch.
Stadium Steering Committee chair Bob Ryan said the project was on schedule and on budget. “The redevelopment project is a huge construction project in the first instance. Bar one, every contractor and sub-contractor on site is from Cork. Everyone is working extremely hard to ensure we reach our targets. We have endeavoured to keep disruption arising from the project to a minimum and we are very grateful to the local residents for their patience and understanding as the work progresses.”
The next thing is the big sell of Premium Level Tickets. In addition to having access to all Provincial Championship games, National League, All Ireland series and club games, Priority Club Members will enjoy access to a range of dining, entertainment and hospitality options located at premium level.
Members will have early access to other events and concerts and priority access to and discounts on Stadium facilities.
John Mullins, chair of the Stadium Business Committee, said people would be hugely impressed by the range of facilities and the game and event experience at the stadium. “This is, first and foremost, an outstanding facility to watch Gaelic games and other events. The vantage points everywhere are uninterrupted by columns or other infrastructure. The range of price points within the stadium means that people can choose to go to the stands or new terraces without any diminution of the experience.”
“We expect a very rapid take up of the Premium Ticket Scheme and there is already huge interest. “PRIORITY at Páirc Uí Chaoimh” is a multi-faceted package which offers match day, hospitality, conferencing and other advantages and the ten-year ticket represents outstanding value for individuals and companies,” he said.
Government funding support for the redevelopment of Páirc Uí Chaoimh and the establishment of a Centre of Excellence has been approved by the EU Commission. The Commission found that the proposed State Aid of €30 million for the project meets all EU requirements. The comprehensive case advanced by Cork County Board for the project has now been approved by Government Departments and by the EU.
In addition to State Aid, the project will receive €20 million from the Central Council of the G.A.A. and €3.75 million from the Munster Council. The funding shortfall will be met by €10 million from the Board’s own reserves and through the sale of Premium Tickets and other commercial initiatives.
Cork representatives maintained that the Stadium and Centre of Excellence project will not result in any funds being diverted away from the County Board’s financing of its games and other programmes.
“The Páirc Uí Chaoimh project is an entirely stand alone project in financial terms and will not impact on the Board’s support for its playing and other activities which remain its priorities,” added Board chairman, Gerard Lane.