‘It’s important we have credible venues for international acts outside Dublin’

Conor Healy is a lifelong member of the Éire Óg club in Ovens, writes Brendan O'Brien.

He has played and coached and, with four daughters, it isn’t any great surprise to hear that he has devoted a fair bit of time to the camogie branch of the national games.

The chief executive of Cork Chamber of Commerce, he is also a member of the business sub-committee for the new Páirc Uí Chaoimh which was set up by the county board early on in the redevelopment process to assist in the financing of the project.

Unfortunate then that he wasn’t able to take in the first game in the new stadium on Wednesday when Valley Rovers faced Blarney in a county PIHC tie.

And that he can’t make the pair of All-Ireland quarter-finals featuring Clare, Tipperary, Wexford, and Waterford. Away on holidays, you see. Bad timing.

“Not great,” he laughs, “but there will be plenty more chances down the line.”

Few can appreciate so clearly the array of long-term benefits that can accrue from a project of this magnitude. Healy admits that hardly a single conversation has been able to pass for weeks now without some mention of the new Páirc Uí Chaoimh.

“It’s massively important for the city and the wider Cork region,” he explained.

“Any thriving and successful economy needs a balance of infrastructure.

“Páirc Uí Chaoimh will bring a sporting and cultural infrastructure we didn’t have. The old Páirc Uí Chaoimh had served its time but a fit-for-purpose stadium was required.

“This will suit both local and national needs and I would hope to see more championship games at an advanced stage, like quarter-finals and maybe even beyond, played there down the years.

“It’s fantastic we have the Ed Sheeran concerts already set for next May.

“These big events are a huge boost to the local economy. The estimates for each one is €10m and up.

“That’s everyone from hotels to bars and restaurants and taxis.

“It also expands well out into the wider region when it is on that sort of scale. Cork can now host the biggest events on successive and multiple occasions and that is good for the country as a whole. It’s important that we have credible venues for international acts outside of Dublin.”

Sporting and cultural events are only two of the three prongs to the project.

Just because there isn’t a roar emanating from a stadium doesn’t mean it isn’t earning its corn.

The new Páirc Uí Chaoimh is an important addition to the business community, too.

“That’s the third part of it,” said Healy.

“As a business location, the new stadium has the capacity to host conferences, meetings and exhibitions and it will add to the existing infrastructure that we have for that in Cork.

"The Cork Chamber of Commerce have already made our first booking there with the Cork Digital Marketing Awards in October. The stadium is a different venue and it will supplement and complement what Cork already has to offer in that sense.

“It’s a world-class stadium, based in Cork. This is an opportunity to maximise that to everyone’s benefit. Aside from GAA games, the concerts and conferences, it will hopefully be a venue for the 2023 Rugby World Cup.

“People are anxious to get in and see it. There’s an excitement about seeing the venue for the first time. It will change the landscape.”

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