Christmas has come a little later than normal for the GAA after confirming a fourth Garth Brooks concert at Croke Park next summer, contributing to an overall cash windfall of €5.5 million.
Stadium director Peter McKenna admitted he was “absolutely stunned” by the level of interest in the American singer which has demanded a fourth consecutive concert at GAA headquarters in July.
McKenna described the development as being a “Christmas present” for the GAA which, at a rough estimate, is poised to make around €750,000 from each non-GAA event it hosts.
With three more One Direction concerts also going ahead as well as an American football match, it’s understood the GAA is confident of raking in around €5.5m this year in rental income.
“We didn’t know this would be in the pipeline this year,” said McKenna. “This is a Christmas present. I think what was heartening about 2013 was that we didn’t have any concert but we still hit our numbers. I think that was very important.
“But we are just stunned about the interest. If you’d said one or two nights [of Brooks], I’d have thought it would be great. But it going to four is huge.
“We shouldn’t underplay the impact it’s going to have on the local community.
“We’re very conscious that four concerts back to back is going to be very disruptive in the local area.
“So we talked to the artist himself and the promoters. We’re meeting with the local community next week and we want a meaningful legacy statement to be made from these concerts.
“So that when the artist goes home and everyone else packs up and leaves, something meaningful is left in the area.”
Exactly what that will be remains a mystery, though it would appear to suggest some form of a physical, concrete investment to aid the community.
A high level of planning will also be necessary to ensure that teams competing in the All-Ireland football quarter-finals the following weekend aren’t disrupted.
They will be playing on a field that will have been entirely covered, for around a week, until just days earlier with the last concert taking place on the Monday.
“We have been here before and we’ve done it before but I don’t want to underplay it either because it’s not without risk,” said McKenna.
“But it is a risk that we’re well able to manage. The stage is not nearly as dramatic as some of the stages, like U2. It’s actually back on Hill 16 so it’s not that far in on the pitch.
“The ramps are not as aggressive as some of the others that we’ve had.
“Significantly, the delay towers, the sound towers, are going to be from the roof down rather than from the ground up, so that means we’ve got the whole back of the pitch.
“Combine all of those things and this is something we can achieve.”
The latest Brooks news was timely yesterday as McKenna and top GAA officials revealed the association’s annual accounts for 2013.
Despite the lack of additional income from non-GAA events last year, gross revenue still rose by €2m. Attendance revenue was up €2.6m thanks in no small part to a thrilling hurling season.
In fact, gate receipts for the hurling championship came in at €11.9m, slightly higher than for the football championship.
“The most gratifying figure of all is that our gate receipts reached over €29m for the year,” said finance director Tom Ryan.
“That was above the target that we set ourselves at the outset and €2m ahead of where we were in 2012,” he added.
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