Sport GAA

Wednesday 22 May 2019

GAA 'let down' by Dublin City Council refusal to approve licence for five Garth Brooks gigs

Paraic Duffy
Paraic Duffy
Garth Brooks at Croke Park
Fans queue to meet Garth Brooks last year

The GAA felt "let down" by the decision of Dublin City Council not approve a licence for five Garth Brooks concerts last summer.

Writing in his annual report to the Congress next month director-general Paraic Duffy said that the majority of people who found the decision "incomprehensible" were right.

The association's top administrator outlined the process that the GAA undertook to ensure that all previous conditions laid out by the City Council were met.

He said he was reluctant to cover this ground again in the report but felt he had a duty to the membership to put on record their side of the story.

Duffy confirmed in the report that the potential revenue loss to the association from the decision not to grant the licence was 5m euro.

He also challenged the assertion that hosting five concerts would have led to 

an 'over intensification of use' of the venue, citing the possibility of Croke Park staging seven 2023 Rugby World Cup games if the Irish bid to host the tournament is successful.

"Croke Park and the GAA felt let down by this whole process. Most people who followed the Garth Brooks affair found the decision to refuse a licence for five concerts incomprehensible. And they were right," writes Duffy.

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"Consider the reality of what we all knew when the licence application for five concerts was submitted. DCC (Dublin City Council) had created a legitimate expectation that a licence would be granted for five concerts; 400,000 people, 330,000 of our own citizens and 70,000 tourists from abroad had paid a substantial sum of money to buy tickets.And the concerts were set to present the country with the gift of a massive economic uplift.

"DCC told us that the decision reached was, I quote, 'appropriate, balanced and reasonable'. But was it so for 400,000 people who had already bought tickets and who were looking forward hugely to the concerts? he asked.

"We had the opportunity to enjoy a unique experience that we would have fondly remembered for years. We lost all of this.

"We did not hear anything over over intensification of use' during the redevelopment of Lansdowne Road when Croke Park was needed to host international soccer and rugby internationals which were of course in addition to Croke Park's own schedule of match days and concerts.

"Is there anyone who seriously imagines that an argument about 'over-intensification of use' of Croke Park will be allowed to interfere with these seven World Cup rugby matches in Croke Park," he asked.

Duffy has also defended the GAA's right to sell a TV rights package to Sky Sports, a deal confirmed last April.

He said that, in general, there was a commercial reality to running the association that underpinned the need to raise more money to provide better infrastructure at home and abroad. 

"Whether we like it or not, commercial and marketing factors are a feature of the world in which the GAA must operate," he writes.

But he confirmed that the same number of championship games (31) will still be available 'free-to-air' beyond 2016 when the next TV rights issue takes place.

"Beyond 2016 our games will continue to be widely available as free-to-air TV broadcasts to Irish audiences and that there will be no reduction in live championship games shown free-to-air," he said.

The broadcasting of Gaelic games in the UK on the Sky platform had led to an upsurge in interest.

"There has been a huge increase in interest in our games, notably among young English-born people who have been arriving in substantial numbers at our UK clubs seeking to take up football and hurling.

"Many of these newcomers have no background in Gaelic games, but were simply enthralled by what they saw on TV."

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