Friday 6 December 2019

Bruce Springsteen concert at Croker to clash with Leinster double-header

Bruce Springsteen is coming to Croker
Martin Breheny

Martin Breheny

‘The Boss’ is heading for Croke Park in late May, forcing a change of date for a Leinster Championship double-header. 

An announcement is imminent that Bruce Springsteen will play at GAA HQ on the weekend of May 27/29 as part of ‘The River Tour 2016’.

The concerts are expected to take place on Friday and Saturday, although a third may be added on Sunday if demand warrants it.

Leinster have fixed the Wexford v Kildare (senior football) and Dublin v Wexford (senior hurling) quarter-finals for Croke Park on Sunday, May 29 but are now facing a change of schedule.

It’s understood that the two games will be brought forward by a week to May 22, rather than putting them back to June 5. That’s unlikely to please the counties, as the fixtures were made last November and would have been factored into local club schedules.

The winners of the Dublin-Wexford hurling tie play Kilkenny in the Leinster semi-final on June 11 while the Kildare-Wexford football winners play Longford/Offaly/Westmeath in the semi-final on June 26. Three concerts were held in Croke Park last year, without impacting on the GAA programme.

The Script played there on June 20 while Ed Sheeran played to sell-out crowds for two nights on July 24/25, the weekend of the All-Ireland hurling quarter finals.

However, they were played in Semple Stadium, Thurles, which has been the usual venue for quarter-finals for quite some time.

While there will undoubtedly be some complaints over switching championship dates to facilitate concerts, the revenue regenerated by entertainment superstars has become an integral part of the Croke Park Stadium model.

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In turn, Croke Park feeds substantial amounts of money into Central Council funds for distribution to counties and other GAA units.

More than 230,000 attended the massively popular Ed Sheeran and Script concerts last year, while 235,000 turned out for the three One Direction shows a year earlier.

A major controversy erupted in 2014 over Garth Brooks concerts, which, due to phenomenal demand, were increased from three to five nights. Permission for the two extra concerts was refused by the city authorities, leading to a massive row, involving the various stakeholders and political heavyweights.

Extensive attempts to broker a deal failed, including an offer to allow three concerts go ahead, as originally planned. Brooks rejected the proposal, resulting in the cancellation of all the concerts which left over 400,000 fans bitterly disappointed.

In the past, concerts have usually been fixed for Croke Park on weekends when the stadium was not required for GAA activities. Presumably, the Springsteen booking came later than usual, leading to the clash of dates with the Leinster games.

Croke Park is due to hold the Christy Ring, Nicky Rackard and Lory Meagher Cup finals on the first Saturday in June so even if the concerts could be staged a week later, it would have led to disruption on the GAA calendar.

Indeed, there would have been considerably more criticism if three finals involving weaker hurling counties were switched to make way for concerts.

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