Friday 9 December 2016

GAA's €30m bonanza if 2023 Rugby World Cup bid is successful

Martin Breheny and Ruaidhri O'Connor

Published 16/11/2016 | 02:30

The GAA charged around €1m per game for the use of Croke Park when it hosted Ireland’s rugby and soccer games during the redevelopment of Lansdowne Road in 2007-2010 Picture: Sportsfile
The GAA charged around €1m per game for the use of Croke Park when it hosted Ireland’s rugby and soccer games during the redevelopment of Lansdowne Road in 2007-2010 Picture: Sportsfile

The GAA is in line for a €30 million bonanza if the IRFU's bid to host the 2023 Rugby World Cup is successful.

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That's based on direct incomes for renting grounds and indirect benefit, arising from the upgrading of several grounds. The overall figure could be more than €30m, depending on how many GAA stadiums are used. Seven have already been identified, with most of them needing substantial upgrading.

Even Croke Park would require some work to cater for one of world sport's biggest events. It would host the semi-finals and final as well as some of the earlier games.

Watch: The brilliant Liam Neeson video that launched Ireland's 2023 Rugby World Cup bid

"A Rugby World Cup, like any good sporting finals, lifts the standards of stadiums - so all stadiums require work," IRFU chief operating officer Kevin Potts said yesterday.

"It's not just a case of rocking up to Jones' Road and wrapping a banner around it (Croke Park), it needs to be upped to a standard for a Rugby World Cup and a global final.

"All of the required overlay has been planned, it has already been costed and we'll get into more detail, drawings and imagery in the coming months. With the remedial work, you're talking about things like floodlighting, big screens, media centres, hospitality, putting in additional seating at some of the stadia.

"We want to have at least a certain minimum mix of seating in all of the stadia. We're also looking at covering some of the terracing."

Apart from Croke Park, the GAA grounds in line for use are: Páirc Uí Chaoimh (Cork), Casement Park (Belfast), Celtic Park (Derry), Pearse Stadium (Galway), Elverys MacHale Park (Castlebar), Fitzgerald Stadium (Killarney), and Nowlan Park (Kilkenny). Páirc Uí Chaoimh is in the latter stages of a major redevelopment and while planning difficulties are delaying the start of the Casement Park project, the GAA remains confident that outstanding issues will be resolved.

Read more: Here are the 12 stadia included in Ireland's 2023 Rugby World Cup bid

Both of those grounds would require minimum work to meet World Cup requirements, unlike the other five which would face substantial refurbishment that would be covered by the bid budget.

It's estimated that total redevelopment work could cost over €20m, with a further €10m to accrue from rent money for use of the grounds.

The GAA charged around €1m per game for the use of Croke Park when it hosted Ireland's rugby and soccer games during the redevelopment of Lansdowne Road in 2007-2010. It yielded a total take of €36m.

Rugby World Cup games would be even more lucrative, especially the semi-finals and final, and since the bid could not go ahead without the GAA agreeing to the use of its grounds, it is in a good position to drive a hard bargain.

Two other countries, France and South Africa, are in the running and a final decision will be made in 12 months.

Irish Independent

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