News Comment

Tuesday 23 September 2014

Good riddance, Garth – 'all-or-nothing' approach let down fans

Published 16/07/2014 | 02:30

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GOOD riddance, Mr Brooks. Despite the disappointment of 400,000 fans and a not insignificant boost to the Irish economy, I'm glad to see you go – or not arrive, as it turns out.

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Compromise is the settlement of a dispute by concessions on each side. But there never really was a chance of compromise, was there?

The controversy over the staging of five consecutive concerts at Croke Park has been mortifying on so many levels.

Dublin's new Lord Mayor, Christy Burke, has been reduced to a home grown version of Iraq's Comical Ali, each new – and absolutely sincere – utterance raising fresh howls of derision.

There was the prospect of a lawsuit being waged by the most unlikely John Doe ever, the mediating Mexican ambassador and those appeals to Barack Obama. Then there was the massive figure put out into the stratosphere by Taoiseach Enda Kenny that the Dublin economy would take a €250m hit.

Most agreed the likely loss was around €50m making the Taoiseach's still uncorrected claim as dubious as some of the objections lodged with Dublin City Council.

And the most tragic and infuriating of all: calls by lawmakers to invoke the ghost of our Special Powers regime – used in the past to deal with the Troubles, amongst other things – to give Garth his five nights.

Compromise was the clarion cry as the controversy intensified.

But in one sense, the decision by Dublin City Council to stage three concerts was already a compromise

This was is in light of the three special event limit imposed on Croke Park when it secured planning permission for its early '90s revamp – and not forgetting the holding of three consecutive One Direction concerts there already this year.

Garth Brooks is not just a man with incredible, 10pc of the population might say, God-given talents. He is also an outstanding businessman, one adept at managing the risks attached to the artist's way and the staging of massive outdoor events.

His right hand man on Earth, or in Ireland at least, is Peter Aiken.

He also knows, like all seasoned promoters, the intricacies of Section 230 of the Planning and Development Act 2000, which governs licenses for outdoor events attracting more than 5,000 people.

The act, lest we forget, works superbly for the vast majority of events.

At heart, Garth Brooks designed a five-day extravaganza for a venue that had a limit of three special events. Even without One Direction, he knew – or ought to have known – that there were no guarantees for three, let alone five nights. But he sold five nights anyway, like a banker doling out loans in the knowledge that his bank is too big to fail.

Whatever the rights and wrongs of City Manager Owen Keegan's decision – for what it's worth I thought it was an entirely reasonable one – when the proverbial hit the fan, we collectively delved into an act of lunacy not so strange in a small open economy that occasionally plays host to phenomena such as moving statues.

Take three nights, we pleaded.

No way children, replied Garth.

What about five concerts over three days, even if it is the maddest public safety proposal ever. No and no, crooned the Stetson man.

Five concerts over the year; take three now and end your world tour in beloved Ireland with two gigs later? No, no and no.

It is liberating not to be a fan when writing about the greatest split since Saipan.

But I suspect even diehard Garth Brooks fans are privately raging that the only compromise here was five nights – or nothing at all.

Irish Independent

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