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Wednesday 27 August 2014

Garth Brooks promoter: 'I can't say if ANY of the Croke Park gigs will go ahead'

Taoiseach Enda Kenny hopes something can be done to save two axed Garth Brooks concerts

Ian Mallon, Joyce Fegan, Daniel McConnell and Garreth Murphy

Published 03/07/2014 | 10:34

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Garth Brooks may not perform any of his Croke Park shows, concert promoter Peter Aiken has said.

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Mr Aiken said "it is up in the air" whether any of the five country and western superstar's gigs will take place at GAA HQ after the decision by Dublin City Council  to only grant a licence for three of the five concerts.

Mr Aiken confirmed the exclusive Independent.ie story today that all five of the Brooks concerts could be cancelled after the decision not to grant licences to the final two shows on Monday July 28 and Tuesday July29.

"I can't say for definite that the three shows are definitely going to happen now," he said this evening.

“It is up in the air. I am devastated."

He also refuted suggestions that Aiken Promotions had made a mistake in not anticipating problems with licences.

“I was in contact with Dublin City Council on a daily basis. My office was in contact on a daily basis. It was never indicated there was a problem with the five shows.”

Mr Aiken said moving the concerts to another venue is not an option as it would be logistically impossible.

“This is a one-off type of show. It will not happen anywhere else in the world. All the customised pieces that Garth is bringing in – you can’t strip them down and bring them to another venue. That is just a rumour.”

The promoter revealed that Garth Brooks himself isn't sure what will happen to the gigs, due to start on Friday 25th July.

Garth Brooks in Croke Park
Garth Brooks in Croke Park
Blennerville National School Parent's Association are inviting theirl friends in low places to a Garth Brooks party in Quane's Bar this Friday where they will meet the likes of this lot - Raphael Crowley, Mary Wallace, Terry O'Sullivan, Blennerville National School Principal and Mary O' Brien.
Singer Garth Brooks. Photo: Getty
Singer Garth Brooks. Photo: Getty

“He said to me – give me a solution. Tell me what to do about those 160,000 people.” 

Meanwhile, Taoiseach Enda Kenny said he hopes something can be done to save the two axed Garth Brooks concerts at Croke Park on 28 and 29 July.

Speaking in Berlin, Mr Kenny said he hoped everyone can work out a consequence to see all five scheduled concerts take place.

Earlier today, Independent.ie had learned from separate sources in Croke Park and in the music industry that the country superstar may pull out of all his Irish gigs, after Dublin City Council only gave a licence for three of the five concerts.

This ruling is in breach of the contract that Brooks signed with Aiken Promotions for five concerts.

A source told this website today: “I would expect that none of these concerts will now go ahead.”

Speaking in Berlin this evening, the Taoiseach said he has no "impact or control" in the matter.

Asked by Independent.ie about the cancellations' potential impact on Dublin's reputation and loss to the economy, Mr Kenny said: "I understand it is to do with a planning issue and the council made its decision here. I hope everyone can work out a consequence to that."

Mr Kenny added: "Obviously if i understand it, three concerts have been approved and they are to go ahead. It is a planning decision for Dublin City Council. They may be able to work out some consequence to allow the remaining concerts to go ahead but it is not for me to interfere in any way."

The Taoiseach was speaking in Germany after permission was refused for two of the five planned Garth Brooks concerts at Croke Park later this month. Concerts will go ahead on 25, 26 and 27 July. But the concert dates of Monday, 28 July, and Tuesday, 29 July will not go ahead.

A total of 400,000 tickets have been sold for the five shows, but the council decision means 160,000 fans look set to be disappointed.

The possibility - of three concerts taking place in Croke Park and the remainder being transferred to the Aviva Stadium - has been described as “completely unfeasible” and “unworkable” by a source.

“These concerts are due to take place at the end of the month, and logistically, structurally and with all the ticketing transfers that would have to go with that there simply wouldn’t be enough time.”

Punchestown racecourse and venue, and Pairc Ui Chaoimh have said they could accommodate the cancelled gigs.

The GAA have released an official statement on the matter, but the body and the promoters let by Peter Aiken are both said to be devastated by the news, not to mention the 400,000 fans who were due to attend the five nights.

There has been much movement behind the scenes throughout the day.

Earlier, independent.ie understood that the Aviva had been put forward as an alternative venue for Brooks' two axed concerts - subject to approval from Dublin City Council.

Promoters Aiken, who are in charge of Brooks’ Irish concerts, have met with rival promoters MCD in the last 24 hours.

MCD own the performing rights at the Aviva stadium at Lansdowne Road, which has a capacity of 50,000 as opposed to Croke Park’s 80,000.

It was also understood that Croke Park would retain concerts on Friday, July 25th, Saturday, July 26th, and Sunday, July 27th.

At that point, it was believed that only the concerts on Monday, July 28th, and Tuesday, July 29th, were in jeopardy.

A source told independent.ie that the situation is no longer in “the hands of the GAA”.

This afternoon, the GAA said it will make no comment until Monday.

It said: "GAA and Croke Park note the decision of Dublin City Council in relation to the granting of licences for the staging of three Garth Brooks concerts on Friday, July 25, Saturday, July 26 and Sunday, July 27."

"We will fully assess the implication of today’s announcement and will make no further comment before Monday next, July 7."

The decision to grant permission for just three of Brooks' five sold out concerts has come as a major shock for fans.

However, problems regarding the concert have been flagged for some time.

Irate local residents had launched a major campaign because a written agreement in 2009 outlined that no more than three concerts were to be held at the stadium each year.

Dublin City Council's CEO Owen Keegan spent yesterday holding high-level talks with staff in the planning office.

A spokesperson for Aiken Promotions has said they are “very disappointed that Dublin City Council did not grant a licence for the five Garth Brooks concerts at Croke Park”. 

They have said that they will issue a further statement in due course.

Dublin City Council said today a total of 373 submissions were received from members of the public on the concert licence application.

It said it would be concerned with the precedent that would be created if five consecutive concerts in a row of this scale were licenced.

Dublin City Council said the reasons for the cancellations were the "the scale, magnitude and number of the concerts" and the "cumulative effect on residents and some businesses".

"Five shows in a row following on from the three concerts already held there this year is considered an over intensification of use of the stadium for the holding of special events/concerts."

"The cumulative effect on residents and on some businesses in the Croke Park and surrounding neighbourhoods, of licencing five shows in a row, three of them on weekdays, would lead to an unacceptable level of disruption to their lives/livelihoods over an unprecedented and prolonged period caused by, concert related noise, access restrictions, traffic disruption, illegal parking and potential antisocial behaviour."

A statement from Punchestown racecourse said it would be delighted to accommodate the cancelled Garth Brooks concerts and facilitate the disappointed fans.

"As a  venue, Punchestown has run dozens of very successful concerts over the last number of years and is recognised as one of Europe’s finest concert venues."

"The local statutory authorities and stakeholders are extremely supportive of concerts at Punchestown and it is estimated that two such events would generate €15 million for the local economy." 

Punchestown cautioned that there are "a number of logistical and legal issues outside Punchestown’s control" that would be very difficult to resolve in the short term.

"That said we are available to do everything possible to accommodate the disappointed Garth Brooks fans," the statement said.

Wicklow Rose Gillian Burke is one of the legions of Garth Brooks fans that has been left bitterly disappointed over today's decision.

Speaking to Independent.ie the Wicklow native said the cancellations are a massive "let down".

"I'm extremely disappointed to hear the news that Monday and Tuesday's Gareth Brooks concert has been officially cancelled. Having been unlucky in getting tickets for the first three days I was delighted when two more dates had been added," the PR guru said.

"It's such a let down on us by Aiken Promotions. They should have investigated the licence requirements of having extra dates added to the concert and checking with Dublin city council before releasing extra tickets and getting peoples hopes up."

She added: "If they had conducted their research in the first place we could have accepted the fact it would only be a three day concert and they could have avoiding this anger and disappointment amongst us all. There will be a lot upset fans in Ireland today."

Dublin's Lord Mayor Christy Burke believes the executive decision to cancel two of the five Garth Brooks concerts is final, saying “there’s no appeal, there’s no reversing of the decision.”

“This was an executive decision - executive being from the Dublin City Manager Owen Keegan.”

“He took on board what has been said by residents, local businesses, and those in the local area.”

“I accepted the professionalism of the Mulvey Report. At the end of the day there will be no winners in this, and I don’t like being the bearer of news which causes pain or loss but my hands were tied.”

“Here’s the way I see it, the promoter said ‘subject to permits being granted’, I think the promoter has to answer questions. He should have went to the managers first.”

“The promoter had a responsibility. He gambled when he sold the ticket ‘subject to permits being granted’. He should have given a courtesy call to the City Manager before selling the tickets.”

“It was an Bord Pleanala that made the decision in 2001 about the three concert rule. I don’t have the authority to make the decision.”

“We need to take a collective responsibility.”

Irish Independent

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