The chair of the Cork County Board’s stadium business committee says the redeveloped Páirc Uí Chaoimh will be “as good a consumer experience as anything in the country.”
Former Bord Gáis Éireann chief John Mullins has presented details of the revamped stadium on Leeside, adding that there will be “no lack of investment in Cork teams” as a result of the project.
“It’s the biggest civil engineering project in Munster right now, and people need to know about it — not just GAA supporters, but everybody.”
Mullins was approached by the Stadium Committee to put a team of business people together to assist the Cork County Board in commercial matters: “Businesses and employment in Cork will greatly benefit from this stadium — I was delighted to be approached by the GAA to put together an excellent committee focused on establishing a new stadium on hallowed GAA turf. As an avid Cork GAA fan I believed it very important to help out in what ever way I could.”
Mullins added: “The new Páirc Uí Chaoimh will be run as a business. It’s a multi-purpose business. People will have to bid to open restaurants in the stadium, for instance, and rental from those units will go to the Association’s profit and loss account. Same with concerts held there, and with the championship matches that we’ve lost out on in the last couple of years — all those gate receipts will now go to fund the Association’s activities in Cork. The fact is that the board has been running at a turnover deficit for the last couple of years as a result of the closure of Páirc Ui Chaoimh, so this is an opportunity to create a business to earn revenue for the Association.
“I have been assured that there will be no lack of investment in Cork teams at all levels because of the investment in the stadium. It’s critical that that’s understood. No money from the current account, or let’s say the cash flow from regular operations, is going into this project. They’re insistent on that.
“That provides us with the opportunity to create the funds to compete with Dublin, who are lording it in terms of sponsorship.
“This is the opportunity to say: ‘Páirc Uí Chaoimh will need to be looked at not as a cost centre but as a profit centre, a business which will create income to invest in our games and in our up and coming players’. Páirc Uí Chaoimh will be home also to the most successful ladies GAA players in the country, our ladies football and camogie teams — teams that we have been so proud of over the last decade.”
There will be no corporate boxes in the new stadium, says Mullins.
“That decision was taken early and I’d support that decision. The beauty of the concourse areas is that you can meet with people, while the premium level is somewhere you can sit down for a meal with people. The premium level is an airy space and we’re hoping that it’ll be used in the same way as the Aviva and Croke Park — for launches and Christmas parties, press calls and functions of all types.
“The premium tickets will have to be sold, and we’ll be launching that initiative in the next month or so. There’ll be about 2,000 premium tickets to be sold and the price point will be revealed at the launch, but we’ll be looking to create finance arrangements for people so that they can go to banks and credit unions to access the funds to buy those tickets. There are plenty of people who go to every national league match, and those people will get huge value from those tickets.”
The level of comfort available in the new arena will be top quality, he adds.
“There will be televisions on all concourses, we’ll have bars, confectionery shops and restaurants — you can go down to watch a match and have a pint in comfort at the Blackrock End terrace, for instance, and watch The Sunday Game before you go out and take your seat to watch your own match.
“There’ll be 40 different bars and shops across the stadium, including a clothing and a merchandise store along the lines of the store in Croke Park. More space, more toilets — more comfort. There’ll be more access points so getting in will be easier, there’ll be more space on the terraces and proper seating. It’ll be a comfortable, 21st century experience, with the design based on lessons learned with the Aviva and the new Croke Park.
“That includes connectivity — we’re working on stadium wi-fi, which may become part of a different arrangement in terms of sponsorship, but that’s how stadia worldwide are going.
“If a spectator is at a game that’s being covered by RTÉ then he or she should be able to watch the replay live on his device thanks to stadium connectivity.
“It’ll be floodlit, which makes night games a feature. Croke Park started night games with a sell-out between Dublin and Tyrone a few years ago and they’re well supported, they produce their own atmosphere. Having all those facilities will be a new paradigm in Cork GAA.”
Players will have their own dedicated facilities within the stadium also.
“They’ll have their own strength and conditioning centre within the stadium, and there’ll be a 700-seater cantilevered stand to look out over the all-weather academy pitch behind the stadium, which will also be floodlit. There’s a 400-seater conference area and the south stand will be a visual landmark that will catch the eye as people come into the city. One suite can be used as a tv studio and there’s a dedicated media area. The pitch area will be adaptable for concerts in that trucks will be able to access the area easily, to erect a stage quickly — that is all part of the design as well. The value to the city of a major concert such as those expected for the new stadium is approximately €10 million per day, and the view is: Why should Dublin get the benefit of all these artists? The Marquee concerts show that Cork is an attractive, proven venue.
“The stadium will have a cafe available for people strolling along the Marina and through Marina Park, something that has not existed heretofore — that makes the stadium a public space, people can sit down and have a cup of tea and watch teams train.”
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