have your say
Published 29/08/2010 | 05:00
Taxpayers get raw deal on Aviva cost
The IRFU decision to increase ticket prices for international matches by 21% may reflect resolute commercial self-confidence. But it is also a symptom of contempt towards a requirement to provide an adequate economic return to the Irish public for their €191m contribution towards the Aviva Stadium and for being the primary bearer of risk.
If this price increase is achievable on all of the €32.5m annual income generated from international rugby matches, the IRFU could have been unencumbered by any obligation to provide the public with a return for its money, or to agree to free-to-air rugby broadcasts, because it could have funded this project with a bond.
The cost of the Aviva Stadium, at almost €8,000 per seat, is extraordinarily high. The redevelopment of Croke Park cost less than €3,200 per seat. It accommodates over 30,000 more spectators and cost society €77m less in State subsidies. The 50,399-seater FC Porto stadium in Portugal, which was cited as a model to emulate by John O'Donoghue when as Sports Minister he announced the IRFU/FAI stadium project, cost less than €2,000 per seat in 2003. The Portuguese taxpayer subsidy of it was less than 10% of that paid to the IRFU/FAI.
Twenty six NFL stadiums, with a seating capacity of over 1.8 million, were developed in the US between 1992 and 2004 at an average cost per seat of €3,800. The conclusion must be that excessive State subsidies cause construction cost inflation.
The Government has announced a commitment of €370m towards sport in the Capital Spending Review 2010-16. They must differentiate between projects that foster widespread citizen participation from those that cater purely for spectators and ensure that the economic returns on the latter are defined, disclosed and demanded.
Major venues lack proper symmetry
The recent opening of the Aviva Stadium begs the question: why can we not build world-class stadia? What all the great stadia share is an aesthetically pleasing aspect coupled with a great atmosphere. The Coliseum in Rome and the great modern stadiums of the San Siro in Milan, the Camp Nou in Barcelona, the Stade de France in Paris, and the new Wembley in London all share a certain symmetry that enhances their architectural merit and generates atmosphere. Croke Park has a roof that doesn't fit, a lopsided ugly concrete bunker at one end and lacks atmosphere. The new Aviva looks impressive but is let down by its north end. Semple Stadium on Munster Final day can compete with the best of them for atmosphere, but pretty it's not!
Cats not as humble as Tommy thinks
I refer to Tommy Conlon's article [Aug 22], titled 'Cody's work ethic reminds us of what we used to be'. This article attempts to draw comparison between the humility of Kilkenny folk and the brash hubris revelry that Tipperary fans engage in, both down through the years and in the run-up to the impending clash between these great rivals.
As a Tipperary man, I have engaged in pre-match banter with hurling counterparts, often, I'm sure, verging on the arrogant. And have received the same in kind. Never with vitriol, but in jest and the crack of the big match day.
But is this not what part of what makes the GAA what it is? Rivalry, a day out, and pride in your county's colours? Tommy's article highlights the humility and greatness of Brian Cody, in comparison with the blindingly misplaced arrogance of Tipp fans. Why didn't Tommy make this a fair comparison, either between opposing fans or opposing managers. Liam Sheedy has been the epitomy of humility, while a walk down Kilkenny's High Street will afford you the opportunity to purchase a multitude of '5-in-a-row' merchandise, including chocolate lolly pops, t-shirts and hats. Very humble indeed.
With Wigan on TV, who needs Barca?
After being afforded a rare opportunity by RTÉ to appreciate a football match that didn't consist of over-rated Premiership dross that would make the most ardent of Irish roast beef munching acolytes weep at its banality, I found Gerry Daly's comments on coverage of Sampdoria and Werder Bremen, how shall I say it, amusing [Have Your Say, Aug 22].
In a country where you can spend Saturday evening in a pub with dozens of so-called football fans turning their backs to live coverage of Inter Milan v AC Milan, or Barcelona v Real Madrid to drool over 'highlights' of Sunderland v Wigan, RTÉ's decision made a welcome change.
I also congratulate John O'Brien for his no-punches-pulled article on Aiden McGeady's move to Russia ahead of joining legions of Irish players who settle for mid-table Premiership mediocrity.