‘Historic moment’ for association as €285m stadium debt cleared

It has taken around 20 years and nearly €285m in total repayments but it’s finally official — the GAA owns Croke Park.

‘Historic moment’ for association as €285m stadium debt cleared

The retirement and consolidation of various outstanding loans has led to a situation where the figure owed on the Jones’ Road venue is now nought.

It is a historic day for the association having begun construction work on the present stadium in 1993 and completed it in 2005.

Stadium director Peter McKenna believes that it is the first time in its 101-year history that the stadium has been entirely debt free.

“I’m not sure if Croke Park was ever debt free,” said McKenna. “I think it always had debt associated with it. It’s a very hard comparison because the building is so much different to what it was prior to 15 or 20 years ago. But it’s certainly a historic moment. It’s huge.”

Asked to explain how the debt associated with the 82,300 capacity venue came to be erased, McKenna revealed the complicated process.

“Effectively we had loans outstanding of about €26.5m, of which we repaid the hotel [€16.5m] and various inter company loans that we had with CLG, and a Bank of Ireland loan [€10m],” continued McKenna. “So we retired all of that and we put it into one lump, which is an inter-company [loan], €14.5m.

“So if you look at the movements on the balance sheet, you will see that €26.5m moved out and it’s net now at €14.5m as an internal inter-company [loan].”

As for the total figure invested in the venue since loans were first drawn down for its redevelopment in the early 1990s, McKenna outlined the situation.

“The stadium total cost wouldn’t have been far off €285m,” added McKenna. “That’s clear now.”

He revealed a positive 2013 trading year for Croke Park Ltd despite not having any additional income from concerts or non-GAA events.

“In a year without the cream that concerts deliver, the Croke Park team delivered an exceptional performance,” wrote McKenna in his report. “In total, we held 64 games over 30 match days and one International Rules fixture.

“Our total match attendance was 1.142m with average attendances at 36,841, marginally up on 2012. This reflected in improved match rentals. The addition of the football league semi-finals, together with five spring series games, boosted revenues to €427,000 in 2013, a 13% increase on 2012.”

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