Supporters going to this weekend’s All-Ireland senior hurling quarter-finals in the remodelled Páirc Uí Chaoimh are being advised to get to Cork as early as they can.
Clare face Tipperary on Saturday afternoon with Wexford taking on Waterford the following day, and Páirc Uí Chaoimh stadium operations manager Bob Ryan says supporters need to make allowances for the fact that the stadium has changed hugely as it has been refurbished.
“We’d advise people to come earlier this weekend,” said Ryan. “Go to the city and park in the city car parks, and then get buses or walk down. It’s only a 15-20-minute walk down.
“We’ll be respecting our neighbours. We don’t want cars on grass verges, litter around the place. That can’t be tolerated into the future.
“There’ll be signage going up around the place to help people with the new stadium, we’re getting information out through our websites and specifically to the counties involved this weekend as the next few days go on.
“Again, it’s a work in progress. Tipperary people would be very used to coming here, Waterford to a lesser degree, but Wexford people would be rare visitors here, and it’s probably going to be difficult, but we’re glad to have them here.”
Ryan added that matchday protocols will be different, in line with the security demands of a 21st-century stadium.
“Those will be absolutely different, this will be run as a modern stadium with very tight stewarding, for instance. Security is now a major concern everywhere and we’ve worked closely with the gardaí on that as well as different agencies.
“There’s a traffic plan and a mobility plan which we’ll be working to, and those may be tweaked along the way, depending on how things go, but you must start with some plan and we’re going with this to begin with, it’s what was part of our planning process.
“We’ll be putting barriers across housing estates, for instance, so that those coming to games can’t go in to park in private estates. We’re working with the residents on that, and have been for the last three or four years, and it’s getting better.
“Relations with local residents are generally very good. In fairness to them, they’ve put up with quite a lot during the build, there was a lot of dust and noise.”
Ryan pointed out that the footprint of the new stadium is bigger than the old venue.
“It’s substantially bigger, if you look at the north stand, the old uncovered stand, there was no space really in the tunnel, but now there’s plenty of space for people to circulate and so on.
“The pitch is exactly the same as it was, the south stand or old covered stand is probably 35m deeper, there are five floors in the building so it’s massive.”
Work is continuing in the stadium even as it opened for last night’s intermediate hurling championship clash between Blarney and Valley Rovers, and the focus on getting the stadium ready has meant that issues such as naming rights have been put on the back burner.
“All we’re really doing now is tidying up bits and pieces around the stadium both internally and externally,” said Ryan. “That will happen right up to Friday night and Saturday morning.
“Naming rights are a work in progress, but the focus for the last six weeks, really, has been on getting the stadium ready to be opened.
“That’s been the major focus. You have to get it open and get it working, and that took most of our energy.
“We’ve been working away on all the other issues as well, naming rights included, but that’s been the focus.
“Croke Park have a major input into the games this weekend, it’s their gig really, so we’ll be guided by them.”
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