Monday 24 July 2017

Munster championships face cut in stadium sizes

Marie Crowe

Marie Crowe

The Munster Council are bracing themselves for a cut in stadium capacities for the 2012 championship. Páirc Uí Chaoimh is expected to be one of the grounds worst hit after a recent health and safety audit was carried out on GAA stadiums around the country.

Cork's county ground has a current capacity of 43,500 but it is believed that this may be slashed to below 30,000 when the report is published after Christmas, and there are fears it may even be closer to 20,000 when the audit is completed.

If so, the new greatly reduced capacity will cause ticket chaos for GAA fans next summer as the Munster football semi-final, which more than likely will be contested by Cork and Kerry, is scheduled for Páirc Uí Chaoimh in June. Last year the Munster final between the same two sides attracted 40,892 to Fitzgerald Stadium in Killarney.

Hurling fans may also be affected as Cork's Munster hurling semi-final could be played there at the end of June if Tipperary beat Limerick in the quarter-final.

Last year's Munster hurling final between Tipperary and Waterford was played in Páirc Uí Chaoimh in front of 30,000 and although the Munster Council invested a lot of money in temporary infrastructure to improve safety, there were still reports of minor crowd crushes at the game.

Health and safety audits were recently carried out in all grounds by independent inspectors at the behest of the GAA's National Infrastructure and Safety Committee.

Draft findings were made available to county boards who were asked to come back with solutions to deal with the issues raised. The completed reports are due out early in the new year and these will confirm the cuts in capacities.

It's believed that Semple Stadium will also face a reduction although officials are confident it will be a minor cut to the 53,500 capacity.

Fitzgerald Stadium should come away relatively unscathed because of the quality of their operational systems. The Kerry board has one of the best event management operations in the country, as seen in last year's Munster football final.

The Gaelic Grounds in Limerick, which is a modern stadium built under newer standards, will also only face minor cuts and they will be as a result of new floodlight poles. Walsh Park in Waterford will also see a cut but Cusack Park in Ennis is not expected to fare so well.

It has already been revealed that several high-profile venues in Leinster have been badly affected in the audit.

The capacity of Páirc Tailteann in Navan could be halved to 10,000 unless concerns surrounding the steep steps in the stands, a shortage of barriers in the terraces and the grass banks are addressed.

St Conleth's Park in Kildare looks set to be cut from 12,000 to 6,000 and Parnell Park in Dublin has also been affected.

In September, St Brendan's Park in Birr had their capacity set at 5,500 by the Leinster Council Infrastructure and Planning Committee. This is a reduction of 5,500 on their original capacity.

The Birr club must complete a detailed body of work if they wish to increase the capacity, including roofing the dug-outs, increasing the number of turnstiles, replacing certain seats and enhancing signage.

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