Cork GAA to sell Páirc Uí Chaoimh name rights after €70m revamp
The iconic Páirc Uí Chaoimh stadium, currently being redeveloped at a cost of €70m, could soon have a new name.
GAA bosses in Cork have proposed selling the naming rights for the ground, according to a business plan seen by the Irish Independent.
The document reveals they also plan to source €10m for the building cost from local GAA clubs and supporters.
Once the revamp is completed in 2017, they will seek to recoup some of the outlay on the stadium by holding two major concerts a year.
The document, marked 'strictly private and confidential', was drawn up following criticism by Government officials earlier this year of a previous business case submitted by the Cork County Board.
Among other issues, that plan was panned for being "overly optimistic" about projected attendances for non-sporting events, such as concerts.
Officials from both the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform and the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport demanded further details in support of a €30m grant the development is due to get from the taxpayer.
As part of this process, further information and clarifications were requested, including a detailed cost benefit analysis.
The new business plan currently being considered by both departments includes a proposal to attach a sponsor's name to the ground.
The practice is relatively commonplace in soccer.
GAA grounds in Armagh, Castlebar, Cavan, Carlow and Wexford have also had sponsors' names attached in recent years, although GAA director general Paraic Duffy ruled out selling the naming rights for Croke Park.
"A sponsor's name, associated with the Páirc Uí Chaoimh stadium, has the potential to enter the everyday vocabulary of media and supporters alike," the business plan said.
It argued that the new stadium will be better value for money, in terms of construction cost per spectator, than Thomond Park in Limerick, Casement Park in Belfast, and Croke Park and the Aviva in Dublin.
Overall annual match attendances at the stadium were forecast at 172,396 spectators from 2017 onwards.
One major revenue stream identified is holding concerts.
Although the stadium will have a 45,000 capacity on match days, the document says the ground can accommodate up to 47,000 revellers for concerts.
It outlines plans to hold two major concerts or exhibitions each year. To facilitate this, the front section at the City Terrace end is to be "removable" so that a stage can be located off the pitch surface.
There would also be crane locations off the pitch, so the playing surface would not be damaged.
Some local residents expressed reservations about the concert proposals.
Save Marina Park, a group which supports the redevelopment but wants land earmarked for an adjoining centre of excellence to be transformed into municipal playing pitches, said it had concerns about traffic management. "It could have a huge impact on people going about their business," said spokesman Denis O'Regan.
The business plan outlines how €10m of the construction costs will come from Cork County Board funds, €24m from national and provincial GAA coffers and €30m from the Government.
A further €10m is to come from fundraising from Cork GAA members.
"Affiliated Cork GAA clubs, as well as the wider Cork GAA supporters and alumni, are expected to contribute," the document said.
This will involve the sale of long-term premium seat packages, long-term club seat packages and a GAA members' draw.
The document said the club seat package would "be sold by clubs as part of their commitment and contribution to the county stadium".
The most expensive part of the plan is the construction of a new South Stand, which is set to cost €33.9m. Construction of the North Stand and terraces are expected to cost €6.7m and €11.8m respectively.
The GAA hopes construction work will be completed by May 2017, in time for that year's Munster football and hurling finals.