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The arrival of a headline act like Bruce Springsteen to Cork was a welcome boost, providing hoteliers, taxi drivers and publicans with a boost in these dire economic times and a reminder to music promoters that there is a large market in the south.
It is unfortunate, then, that the organisation of the concert at Pairc Uí Chaoimh did not match the anticipation.
The event organisers should have foreseen the folly of one bar for 40,000 people. Many people queued for an hour for drinks, missing a large portion of the show. This meant that the standing area was never close to capacity and this adversely affected the atmosphere.
The toilets were unclean and outdated (no hand-driers in the ladies) and there were long queues for basic facilities despite the €100 ticket fee. These complaints are minor compared to the shambles at the end of the night.
The stadium announcer (obviously used to only addressing poorly attended GAA matches) bellowed to ‘exit through the Blackrock end’. Many people in attendance were not from Cork, had never attended a GAA match at Pairc Ui Chaoimh, and, due to the absence of signage, did not know the Blackrock end. This confusion was compounded by the fact that all revellers were ushered towards the same exit, on to dark roads with no lighting and few stewards/gardaí. From there, it was a 30-minute walk along potholed roads to get to taxis. Only for the actions of concert-goers, who used their mobile phones to provide light, there would have been serious injuries.
It was wonderful to see Cork City so alive last Thursday and one hopes that other big-name artists, such as U2, will make a long-awaited return.
However, it is important that the success of Springsteen’s performance, and the boost to the local economy, does not mask serious safety concerns, not to mention the fact that Pairc Uí Chaoimh is in dire need of redevelopment. Until such time as Cork finally gets a concert venue worthy of its ‘real capital’ status, southern music fans will have to admit that the Dubs do it better.
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