Sunday 28 December 2014

Croke Park to become huge 'playground' for One Direction shows

Emma Jane Hade

Published 22/05/2014 | 02:30

Stringent security will be in place at the upcoming One Direction gigs in Croke Park
Stringent security will be in place at the upcoming One Direction gigs in Croke Park
One Direction singer Niall Horan
The project to transform Croke Park has taken two weeks.

ORGANISERS of this weekend's One Direction concerts have said that they have been working tirelessly for weeks to turn Croke Park into "a giant children's playground".

Concert promoters MCD said that they are aiming to provide a safe environment for the 240,000 young revellers who are set to descend upon the stadium over three days.

"The planning has been going on since before the tickets went on sale last year. It is quite a family audience and we are introducing a whole new range of ages to Croke Park," Eamon Fox, event controller with MCD, explained.

"There are restrictions in areas, which sometimes may seem a bit harsh. We are not letting any under-14s on to the pitch, but it is for the safety of under-14s. We have all of that at heart."

Children as young as five are expected to be amongst the revellers attending the concerts, and organisers are keen to ensure parents that the area has been made child-friendly.

A special smartphone app has been developed, specially trained staff have been employed and a 'tag your child' system are amongst some of the safety measures set to be put in place as Louis, Harry, Zayn, Niall and Liam take to the stage.

"We have engaged volunteers from our camogie community," Alan Gallagher, head of stadium operations in Croke Park, explained.

"They are all used to dealing with children."

"We have put in seven lost children information points on all accessible areas, and there is a 'My One Direction' phone app which gives all of that information," Eamon Fox added.

Mr Fox said that the 'tag your child' system will be in operation at the entrances, and this will allow parents to put their seat number and contact information on the tag which will then be placed on the child should they get lost.

Measures have also been put in place to protect the local community and to ensure that there is minimal disturbance for the residents.

A specifically dedicated helpline can be contacted for free on 1800 303 593.

The hallowed GAA turf also featured on top of the list of priorities, and special tracking was placed on the famous pitch on Wednesday afternoon. This covering will allow the grass to grow underneath and will minimise any possible damage to the pitch.

The stage on which the boyband will entertain their screaming fans on is perched on Hill 16, and is just one of three which is being used as part of One Direction's 'Where We Are' world tour.

Irish Independent

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