Cork County Board officials confirmed yesterday that the massive construction project which has transformed Cork’s flagship GAA stadium into one of the best in the country is on budget and on schedule to host its first games next June.
The stadium will be available, if required, to host the 2017 Munster football and hurling finals as its first major fixtures, they said.
And it has also been confirmed that talks are underway about a 10-year naming rights deal for the new stadium, which it is hoped will be signed with a major sponsor by opening date.
The news came as the stadium’s premium level ticket scheme was launched last night.
The “Priority at Páirc Uí Chaoimh” scheme, limited to 2,000 seats on the second tier of the new three-tier south stand, will cost €6,500 for a 10-year ticket.
As well as providing access to all provincial championship games, national league, All-Ireland series and club games, priority club members will have access to a range of dining, entertainment, and hospitality options on the premium level.
They 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 will be hugely impressed by the stadium facilities and by the game and event experience, and that he expects the premium-level tickets to be snapped up.
“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,” he said.
County board chairman, Gerard Lane, said the new stadium will rank among the best in the country.
“The 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 around. The GAA public deserves top-class, modern facilities to house its games and to meet today’s expectations,” he said.
Work on the demolition of the old 1976-built stadium started in mid-2015, with the main contract starting last December.
The roof over the 8,000- capacity north stand is in place, with work installing the roof on the 13,000-capacity south stand due to start next week.
The finished 45,000-capacity stadium, which has provision for 220 wheelchair users, will have uninterrupted views throughout, with covered seating for 21,000 spectators and a capacity for 24,000 on the larger, enhanced terraces.
The south stand will have large dressing rooms, warm-up areas, physio and rehab facilities, and a gymnasium on the ground floor, where team buses will be able to drive in under the stand right to the dressing room doors.
It will be the first stadium in Ireland to have LED lighting. It will have wifi, and it will be covered by 32 TV cameras, with provision for Hawk Eye on big-game days.
It will have 32 hot-food kiosks, shops and bars, and a conference centre which will cater for a range of events, from business meetings to weddings.
Access to the stadium will be through 72 turnstiles, twice the previous number, and there will be 20 exits with an emergency exit time of six-and-a-half minutes.
The pitch, which has been relaid, will be floodlit, with its sprinkler system using rain harvested from the stadium roofs.
The stadium, which boasts large circulation space outside, will also be the first in Ireland to be located within a municipal park, the proposed Marina Park, which is being developed by Cork City Council.
Work is due to start early next year on the all-weather floodlit pitch on the Ballintemple side of the stadium, as part of the centre of excellence, which will be overlooked by a 760-capacity spectator stand.
Bob Ryan, chairman of the stadium steering committee, said everyone involved in the entire project is working extremely hard to ensure all deadlines are met.