Friday 24 February 2017

GAA faces 200,000 loss in ground capacity

Colm Keys

Colm Keys

Fitzgerald Stadium in Killarney is facing a potential reduction in capacity of over 13,000
Fitzgerald Stadium in Killarney is facing a potential reduction in capacity of over 13,000

A cumulative 27pc decrease in capacity across the board has been recommended by the authors of a specially commissioned report on the health and safety of inter-county GAA grounds.

It will leave the association with a hefty bill to claw back the 200,000-plus figure it has lost in capacity in the 35 inter-county grounds that came under review.

The Slattery Report is in the hands of the provincial councils and the GAA's management after a preliminary examination of every inter-county ground in the country.

It has already been disclosed that Pairc Ui Chaoimh's capacity could be cut to just over 32,000, down from 43,500, if recommended remedial works are not carried out to improve health and safety standards.

But every county ground is facing works over the next few months if they want to restore their capacity to anything near what it has been in recent years.

The Slattery Report has yet to finalise preliminary figures on Walsh Park in Waterford, St Tiernach's Park in Clones and McCumhaill Park in Ballybofey.

It also incorporated the secondary county grounds in Waterford (Fraher Field in Dungarvan), Pairc Ui Rinn in Cork and Austin Stack Park in Tralee.

But for all other primary county grounds a cumulative capacity of 740,000 would drop by just over 200,000 or 27pc.

The scale of the loss of capacity and the works that have to be carried out is of pressing concern.

The capacity of some grounds has been obliterated and even with remedial action, it is impossible to see how they can return to the figures enjoyed under Europlan capacity standards.

The new MSA Safe capacity standards listed in the report see dramatic falls for the grounds in Newbridge, Navan and Cusack Park in Ennis, which could cater for 27,000, but is now recommended for just 14,826.

Connacht grounds are particularly badly hit, with Hyde Park in Roscommon facing a potential drop of just under 15,000 from its current capacity of 33,612. More than a third of the capacity of Pairc Sean MacDiarmada in Leitrim has been shaved off -- down to 9,331 from 15,000.

Even Fitzgerald Stadium in Killarney has been hit with close to a 30pc reduction, 41,218 down to 28,089.

Significantly, county grounds in Northern Ireland have the least remedial work to do, because they have, up to now, operated to different standards.

Cork have already expressed confidence that they can restore their grounds to close to full capacity again.

Counties have been briefed on what they must do, but the cost will be significant.

Irish Independent

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