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Croke Park admit to a 'risk' factor in staging four Brooks concerts

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GAA president Liam O'Neill. Picture: Piaras O Midheach/SPORTSFILE

GAA president Liam O'Neill. Picture: Piaras O Midheach/SPORTSFILE

GAA president Liam O'Neill. Picture: Piaras O Midheach/SPORTSFILE

STAGING a fourth Garth Brooks concert in Croke Park is, according to Stadium and Commercial Director Peter McKenna, "not without risk", though the GAA now stand to make around €3m from the singer's run of Irish gigs in June.

With pop act One Direction already selling out three nights at the Jones' Road stadium in late May, the Association's coffers will be fattened by approximately €5.5m from non-GAA-related revenue streams in 2014.

Two All-Ireland football quarter-finals are scheduled to be played over the August Bank Holiday weekend, leaving just five or six days – depending on scheduling by the CCCC – to relay part of the pitch and realign the stadium.

McKenna explained that the process is not as arduous as that which faced his team in 2009 after U2's three-night stint, just five days before the first All-Ireland SFC quarter-final. "The stage is not nearly as dramatic as some of the stages like U2," he outlined.

"It's actually back on Hill 16 so it's not that far in on the pitch. The ramps are not as aggressive as some of the others that we've had.

"Significantly the delay towers, the sound towers are going to be from the roof down rather than from the ground up so that means we've got the whole back of the pitch. Combine all of those and this is something we can achieve."

Easing complications is the fact that this year, only the quarter-finals involving the Connacht and Munster champions will be played through that weekend, giving the GAA scope to host both on Sunday and thus enduring an extra day's grace if required.

ACCOUNTS

Yesterday's publication of the GAA's accounts for 2013 revealed a €3.5 drop in income for Páirc an Chrócaigh Teoranta, the holding company for the GAA and the stadium management of Croke Park, related directly to the absence of any concerts over the period.

In 2012, Westlife's two nights and a third concert by the Red Hot Chili Peppers generated around €3m after costs for the GAA and McKenna revealed that the average net gain to the GAA's pockets is around €750,000 per such event, with the ground holding approximately 72,000 on each sold-out occasion.

The GAA have, he added, been "absolutely stunned" by the volume of ticket sales for Brooks which yesterday resulted in a fourth event being announced, the longest run of concerts by any act since the stadium's redevelopment in 1993.

"If you'd said one or two nights, I thought it'd be great. But it going to four is huge," he said, explaining that contact from the country singer's management, and promoters Aiken, was only made late last year.

"We didn't know this would be in the pipeline. This is new. This was a Christmas present really. That's the truth of it."

The GAA have, in the past, faced resistance from residents in the areas surrounding Croke Park and McKenna explained: "We're meeting with the local community next week and we want a meaningful legacy statement made from these concerts.

"So that when the artist goes home and everyone else packs up and leaves, that while there is a lot of disruption, something meaningful is left in the area."


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