Croke Park bans charity event over 'wrong image'

Croke Park has refused to hold a Telethon charity event because it doesn’t suit its corporate image, it was claimed today.

Croke Park has refused to hold a Telethon charity event because it doesn’t suit its corporate image, it was claimed today.

Two businessmen hoped to stage a Culchie Festival Ball in the conference centre at Croke Park to coincide with the People In Need Telethon on October 26.

However, bosses at Croke Park turned down a detailed five-page proposal on the event but said they may host other Telethon events.

The Festival Ball had the backing of Telethon, which has raised €35m for thousands of charities since 1988.

“We’re flabbergasted. We were told the event didn’t suit their corporate image,” said Mr Rock, who is now left without a venue for his event.

“Culchies pack Croke Park to the rafters every weekend at GAA games. They can put rugby and soccer and American football into Croke Park but they won’t host a charity event to raise money for local causes.”

Co-organiser Brendan Morrissey said up to six weeks of planning had gone into preparing a detailed proposal on the event for Croke Park.

“Podge and Rodge and the d’Unbelievables are culchies but I’m sure they wouldn’t be turned away from performing at Croke Park,” he added.

Mr Rock and Mr Morrissey have raised €92,000 for local charities in the past two years through themed events.

The GAA said today that it carefully considered the Culchie Ball proposal but decided it wasn’t suitable for the venue.

A spokesman said: “Croke Park’s two official charities for 2007 are the Hope Foundation and Temple Street Children’s Hospital.

“We get charity requests every day but obviously we cannot say yes to them all.”

He added that it was “quite possible” that Croke Park would host other events in conjunction with the People in Need Telethon in October.

“GAA clubs and their members have been strong supporters of Telethon in the past.

“The corporate image of Croke Park isn’t necessarily our first consideration in hosting charity events at the stadium,” he added.

Croke Park is set to breach the two million attendance barrier this year following first-ever rugby and soccer games, sell-out GAA championship replays and concerts.

The opening and closing ceremonies of the Special Olympics World Summer Games in 2003 were among major charity events held at the venue.

Money raised at the Culchie Festival Ball at Croke Park would have to be distributed to local charities in Dublin under Telethon rules.

The proposed ball planned to assemble the 17 past winners of the annual Culchie Festival to select this year’s champion. The night was also due to host camel racing – featuring wooden cut-outs of the animals – which would be bet on by the guests.

The Culchie Festival first began in Co Galway in 1989 and is described by the organisers as the male alternative to the Rose of Tralee. Contestants compete in a series of challenges including welly throwing, knitting, sandwich making, nappy changing and wheelie bin racing.

The event has been compered in past years by RTE personalities Anne Doyle, Maxi and Linda Martin.

The organisers of the ball are now looking for an alternative venue in the Dublin area.

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