Monday 20 May 2019

Brooks ultimatum: It's five shows or nothing

Garth Brooks. Photo: Getty
Garth Brooks. Photo: Getty
Garth Brooks

Joyce Fegan and Sam Griffin

Shocked Garth Brooks fans have been told by their idol that it's all or nothing when it comes to the planned Dublin concerts.

Organisers are desperately scrambling to find a way of staging all five concerts after Dublin City Council gave the green light for only three.

Massive pressure from businesses and fans was being applied to city chiefs along with Aiken Promotions and the GAA last night to find a resolution to the row.

The pressure is likely to increase after Brooks issued a statement saying he wouldn't do just three shows.

"For us, it is five shows or none at all. To choose which shows to do and which shows not to do, would be like asking to choose one child over another," a statement from country music legend Brooks said.

"However, this plays out, Ireland has my heart and always will."

The Taoiseach was among those who said he hoped something could be done to save the concerts.

Business chiefs say that each concert is worth around €10m. As well as the immediate economic loss, they said the cancellations would cause huge reputational damage overseas.

A total of 400,000 tickets have been sold for the five Croke Park gigs, including around 70,000 overseas. Promoters had already warned that all five concerts were at risk because the council’s decision not to grant licences for Monday and Tuesday’s planned gigs.

The singer, whose long-awaited Irish gigs sold out in record time, said he had been given a massive welcome in Ireland.

“I can’t thank the people of Ireland enough for how welcome they have made me feel. I have faith that Dublin City Council will make the best decision for the people of Ireland,” he said

The Irish Independent has learned that the Aviva stadium management would be “willing and able” to step in as a venue for the two axed concerts.

The former Lansdowne Road ground has three licences in place every year to host concerts and these would be available to make up for the two lost Croke Park concerts.

However, promoter Peter Aiken emphatically ruled out any prospect of the concerts being moved to another venue. He said that as ticket sales soared Garth Brooks “started to get more excited about it” and “what started out as this simple show became this monster”.

“This is a one-off show, it's not going to happen anywhere else in the world,” he said.

“All the customised pieces of video equipment he's bringing in, we can't strip that down and then move to another venue.”

The GAA has refused to comment on the debacle saying that it will take them until Monday to draw up a response.

Despite the public outcry residents who lobbied Dublin City Council to halt the concerts remained defiant last night.

They said the reasons for disallowing the fourth and fifth concerts were “equally valid” for the three concerts that have been given the go-ahead as Croke Park has already hosted three One Direction concerts this year.

“For decades the residents have been promised by the GAA that

Croke Park would consult with us before any such events are announced. This was not the case on this as well as many other occasions,” Stop the Croke Park Concert Madness group said in a statement.

“Local residents are delighted that DCC has respected their view and accepted the issues raised in their objections in order to minimise disruption to the neighbourhood in which the concerts were to take place.

“If we had real consultation and genuine engagement we could have avoided last-minute decisions like this.”

Meanwhile, a local community group, which represents some residents’ views, met with solicitor Anthony Fay last night to discuss whether or not they would issue legal proceedings against the remaining three concerts permitted by Dublin City Council.

 They were speaking before the singer issued his statement, and the group, the executive committee of the Irish Handball Community Centre, which is beside Croke Park, said they “feel that the three additional concerts are still in breach of the planning laws”.

Irish Independent

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