GAA admit Garth Brooks concerts risk damage to Croker pitch
COUNTRY crooner Garth Brooks may be swelling the GAA's coffers to the tune of almost €4m next summer but the GAA have admitted that hosting his five consecutive concerts in Croke Park involves "some risk".
"It does carry some risk and is bringing us to the edge of possibility," Croke Park's stadium director Peter McKenna admitted.
"But we would not have agreed to a fifth concert if we did not think we could handle it," he said.
Questions have been asked about how the pitch surface will survive with just four or five days (depending on scheduling) to recover after the concert series. The latest addition to Brooks' concert series takes place on July 29 and the pitch must be fit to host two All-Ireland football quarter-finals the following weekend, either as a double-header on Sunday or split over the Bank Holiday weekend.
But McKenna stressed that the set-up for the concerts will be very different to previous U2 and Take That concerts at Jones Road.
"Firstly, the stage is largely going to be located on the terrace (Hill 16) with only ramps going onto the pitch," he said. "And most importantly the delay (sound) towers will be suspended from the roof of the stands, so we don't have to lay as much ground cover."
On previous occasions, when there were more elaborate stages, the GAA has lifted the famous sod and replaced it but that will not be necessary for the Brooks concerts, despite the number of them.
McKenna said they will shave the turf very tight, put on a growth inhibitor and then cover it with a protective porous material and flush it with nitrogen afterwards to stimulate growth.
"It would be fair to say there is some risk," he admitted. "But we've been here before, we know what we are doing. The ramps off the stage are not as aggressive as some of others we've had and we are confident we can handle it."
It is estimated that the GAA is making €750,000 in profit from each concert, which will give them a €3.75m pay-day from the country singer's unprecedented popularity.