Peter McKenna says retractable roof not practical for Croke Park

Putting a retractable roof on Croke Park is not a feasible option in countering the inclement weather which spoilt Sunday’s football final, according to Stadium Director Peter McKenna.

McKenna was responding to Joe Kernan’s assertion in yesterday’s Irish Examiner that the Dublin-Kerry All-Ireland decider could have been saved if there was a roof in place.

“It is time to put a roof on Croke Park. Imagine the atmosphere that would have been in there on Sunday with a dry surface and the noise that would have been created by a closed roof,” remarked the 2002 Armagh All-Ireland winning-manager.

The Croke Park Commercial and Stadium Director said the cost involved, the width of the stadium and the configuration of Hill 16 are the main deterrents.

“It has never been raised in discussion. The issue is that because the stand in Croke Park is so big, this is not putting on a roof, this is building a bridge,” he explained.

“You would need a bridge to cover the span. That requires fairly long stanchions to go inside and whether we technically have the room on the Hogan Stand side of the stadium to put down that level of support structure is questionable.

“And the cost then is another substantial issue. Ballpark, it would be into the hundreds of millions. It is the cost of a bridge.

“The final difficulty we have is the configuration of Hill1 16 and the way that presents itself to the railway. Putting in a roof would not be feasible with current engineering techniques.”

He added: “The Millennium Stadium [in Cardiff], which has a roof, is a lot narrower than Croke Park. Croke Park is one of the widest stadiums in the world, the width of our pitch is almost the length of the Millennium.”

McKenna accepted the sentiment in Kernan’s suggestion, but explained that the construction of a roof would produce a “sanitised environment”.

“You cannot plan for the weather and Joe does make a valid point. Often times, the Millennium Stadium is left open because people like the elements and what that brings.

Remember Maurice Fitzgerald’s point where he kicked into the wind and the wind took it across. That wouldn’t happen in a sanitised environment.”

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