Opposition to stadium revamp plan

THE GAA will face opposition from residents living near Páirc Uí Chaoimh against its plans for a €45 million revamp of the flagship stadium.

Residents claim they are under siege from “ignorant GAA fans” on big match days.

And one resident who wrote to the city’s 31 councillors before Monday’s crunch vote on a land deal said the GAA are not “good neighbours”.

He said the disruption to residents during major games includes fans urinating in private gardens, widespread littering and dangerous and indiscriminate parking in neighbouring residential estates.

During the recent senior county final, residents said several match-goers simply abandoned their cars on residential green areas whose maintenance was paid for by residents’ groups.

“Another fan parked his car in such a way as to cause fears that emergency vehicles wouldn’t be able to enter the estate,” a resident said.

And despite the issue being brought to the attention of gardaí, nothing happened, the man said.

It is understood that several residents groups in the Ballintemple area are now planning to unite to lodge a comprehensive objection to the Cork County Board’s planning application for the revamp, which is expected within three months.

The move follows a vote by Cork City Council on Monday to dispose of almost seven acres of publicly-owned land around the stadium to the Cork County Board for €1.7m.

The disposal, subject to planning permission, is designed to facilitate the GAA’s plan to extend the stadium’s covered stand, increasing its spectator capacity from 43,500 to 50,000.

The stadium will be able to cater for concerts hosting up to 60,000 people.

The GAA also plans to develop a “centre of excellence” next to the stadium, including an all-weather floodlit playing pitch and a small seated stand subject to a possible rezoning.

Cllr Des Cahill (FG), who lives near the stadium and who voted against the land disposal, urged the Cork County Board to engage with residents. “They (the GAA) must sit down with residents and take on board their concerns.”

Cllr Denis O’Flynn (Lab) also backed residents.

“I have no problem with the development per se but residents have rights as well and they are being ignored,” he said.

City manager Tim Lucey said as negotiations over the land deal continue, he will ask the GAA to consult with residents.

“I echo your views and there will be a lot of time for the public to engage in this process but there is a big opportunity here for the Cork County Board to engage too on around issues such as traffic management,” he said.

Cork County Board chairman Jerry O’Sullivan said his officials are willing to listen to local concerns.

“When you have 40,000 people coming to a game, it is difficult to control everyone and to provide a specific parking place for everybody involved,” he said. “But we will listen to residents if they have concerns.”

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