Cork City and the Munster Football Association have jointly agreed to put the naming rights to Turner’s Cross up for sale.
But, conscious of the place of the Cross in the heart of the club, its supporters and Irish football, City are also insistent that any new name should not “devalue” the tradition and reputation of the famous ground.
The idea originally surfaced as part of a detailed analysis of commercial opportunities which the club undertook during the off-season and, following more recent consultation with the MFA — who own the stadium — City have now gone public with the proposal. Already, both the club and the MFA have received some informal expressions of interest.
“Finances for us and them aren’t in the best shape at the moment which is understandable given the current climate,” says City chairman Declan Carey. “We had discussions with them about ways to improve the ground — we’re due to announce the launch of brand new hospitality facilities — and we said the naming rights was an opportunity. We don’t own the ground but we’re anchor tenants and we’ve a great relationship with the MFA.”
Describing the Cross as “one of the most famous grounds in the country”, Carey says that market evaluation suggests the value of the sale of stadium’s naming rights would be “up there with front of shirt sponsorship money, especially in the League of Ireland, on a yearly basis, so we would be hoping to get to as close to six figures as we can.”
But he also sees getting the balance right between the commercial benefits and respecting tradition, as key to any successful deal.
“It has to be a brand name that upholds the tradition,” he says. “Ideally, we’d like someone to come in who would be synonymous with sport and has a good reputation. It’s important for us that the name will never die as well. It’s like Musgrave Park and Irish Independent Park — everyone still calls it Musgrave Park. People will still say they’re heading out to Turner’s Cross.
“We’ll work that out with whatever partner wants to come on board.
But we do want to maintain the history of the ground. That’s not something we want to scrap. There’s an obvious mentality out there that this is a young board that has come in and is going to change the name of the stadium. That’s not it at all.
“We’re more in tune than anyone with the history of that stadium and we’ve all experienced the historic moments as fans ourselves in the ground. We don’t want to devalue the reputation it has. We just want to improve the facilities in the ground, we want to work with the MFA, and we want to bring the ground up to modern standards. And to do that we need to bring in more revenue. So it’s a no-brainer to look at this. It’s a huge opportunity for some company to come in and get their name on it.”