Thursday 23 May 2019

An emotional week that has revealed more losers than winners

Garth Brooks in Croke Park
Garth Brooks in Croke Park
Louise Kelly

Louise Kelly

“There are no winners here, just perhaps democracy” was one comment heard on national radio today, ten minutes after Aiken Promotions released a statement announcing the cancellation of all five planned Garth Brooks concerts.

And so it ends.

It was a week of palpable tension: verbal spats, legal arguments, dramatic media statements, furious meetings and – it has to be said – a heavy dose of nail biting.

A number of days over which the impending Cabinet reshuffle took a backseat and even a smattering of leading politicians waded in to the licence war.

Already a number of ‘hilarious’ memes have been circulating online including the loss of business for the ‘Stetson’ sellers and fast food vendors – but, all jokes aside, that business for them is more real than the mooted €50m the shows were meant to draw over the five days.

Point being, it’s not just that there are no winners in this debacle, the amount of losers in the fall-out also seems to be ever growing.

Nonetheless, as a ticketholder and a Croke Park resident (an apparently odd mixture or so I’ve heard), I believe both sides did fight their argument well. 

The most salient points, the breach of agreement concerning the number of planned annual events at Croke Park versus the potential financial and reputational loss by cancelling the Garth Brooks gigs are, by now, well-known nationwide.

The Croke Park residents, led in their charge by Castleknock-resident Eamon O’Brien, loudly expressed their indignation at their daily lives in danger of being encumbered by five consecutive nights of country music.

In their plight against the checked shirts masses, Dublin city manager Owen Keegan has been hailed a hero for defending “the little people”. 

On the other side of the fence, Aiken Promotions defended a rather haughty ‘all or nothing’ ultimatum from Garth Brooks himself and tardily scrambled to find a solution to the licence issue after their pre-emptive sale of tickets to some 400,000 fans.

In their thirst (the word ‘greed’ has been overused this week) for fan satisfaction similar to that achieved through the One Direction gigs, themselves and the GAA thought to address the ‘minor’ legal complications at a later date. The potential financial rewards would be a nice cherry on top, of course.

However, just as the number of planned gigs by the country singer multiplied at the outset, so the number of shows that will actually now go ahead have dwindled to nothing.

Before their devastated eyes, fans have seen the prospect of the grand comeback of their idol fade day by day.

An outraged Louis Walsh (manager of support act Shane Filan) offered those die-hards a ray of hope this afternoon, maintaining that Aiken and Brooks "won't let the people down" with the suggestion that they may schedule alternative dates next year in venues across the country.

Even as a less than avid fan, I’m not sure I could go through that emotional turmoil again.

And so it ends. 

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