If the old Páirc Uí Chaoimh had a snag list, it would have extended to reams but few other GAA stadiums could boast as many excellent vantage points, writes John Fogarty.
Cork chairman Ger Lane promises that is the one element of the place that hasn’t been lost in spite of its reconstruction.
“I’ve been to every corner of the stadium and one thing that struck me about it which is similar to the old stadium is that no matter where you were you had a very good view,” he says.
“It was always spoken about of Páirc Uí Chaoimh, whether you were in the middle of the stand or on the terrace you had a great view with this bowl effect and the new stadium has very much retained that aspect.
“The old stadium had a lot of faults but it had great viewing everywhere. It’s unrecognisable in every other aspect in terms of its comforts and what’s available there.”
Patrons at Wednesday’s club will have noticed just as those who attend tomorrow and Sunday’s All-Ireland quarter-finals that the dimensions of the pitch rival the size of Croke Park. The seats are a similar shade of grey too, which has surprised some of the Cork following.
“We think they’re light grey and dark grey,” smiles Lane.
“Strong colours tend to fade and we knew a lot of our seats would be in the sunlight. I know soccer stadiums replace their seats regularly but they probably have more financial wherewithal to deal with that whereas we may not.
“We felt that we should go with something close to what Croke Park have done, which has lasted a long time. They’re replacing seats now but they would have been over 20 years there. We felt if we went with a bright red seat it would fade very easy and look shabby after a short space of time.”
Similar but not identical to the Gaelic Grounds, teams will enter from separate tunnels either end of the Southern (Covered/Sean McCarthy) stand. The joke going around is it will avoid a repeat of “Semplegate” but it too adds to the bowl effect of the stadium.
As far as parking facilities go, they remain more or less the same as before. And this is a point Lane wants to take up — he argues GAA supporters have to buy into the idea of using public transport or parking away from stadia.
“There has always been talk about parking with Páirc Uí Chaoimh but any place you go there seems to be problems with the volume of traffic.
"In this case, it’s not going to be much different but we will have a transport management plan and we’re working on that. We would also hoping to link up with Bus Éireann in terms of park and ride.
“We’re not that far from the city centre for people walking out. I know some people who came to see the stadium in relation to the Rugby World Cup couldn’t believe we had the stadium so close to the city in terms of walking distance.
“Sometimes a lot of us GAA people think we must almost park behind the goals. We probably all are at fault of thinking that. Other sports around Europe, you park well away from the stadium. You get your bus or your taxi. People’s attitude towards parking close to stadiums has to change and I would hope we would learn from other sports and park up in town and get a park and ride bus to the stadium.”
“We’re working towards that and have spoken with people about it but we have nothing finalised. It’s a big situation for any company to attach their name to a stadium and it sometimes takes a while to get an agreement. It’s something we intend to have down the road but I can’t put the timeline on it.”
Lane insists the stadium will be open to stage games for most if not all ages. “We made commitments to the various bodies locally that it would be available and the second playing pitch would be available to the local schools, Sciath na Scóil and Harty Cup.
“I think Páirc Ui Chaoimh will have an effect on Cork as Croke Park did on the GAA in general.
"It is a home, something we’re proud of. Every player wants to play in Croke Park and we would be hoping that everybody in Cork will want to play in Páirc Uí Chaoimh, that when clubs are involved in championship matches around the county that they make it a goal to get to the quarter-final or semi-final partly because it will be played in Páirc Uí Chaoimh.
"I think it will have a huge effect on young people playing our games.
“The last three or four weeks, has been a phenomenal time for Cork hurling, the U17s, the minors, the U21s and the seniors. The stadium is coming at a good time for us.”
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