Monday 18 December 2017

Croke Park to seek State funding boost for American football plan

Penn State players hoist the Dan Rooney Trophy after defeating UCF in Croke Park Classic last year. Photo: Cody Glenn / SPORTSFILE
Penn State players hoist the Dan Rooney Trophy after defeating UCF in Croke Park Classic last year. Photo: Cody Glenn / SPORTSFILE
Martin Breheny

Martin Breheny

The GAA is to seek Government backing to attract regular American College Football to Croke Park.

Stadium director Peter McKenna said that they would be looking for between €500,000 and €750,000 from State funds to back the initiative.

Croke Park hosted University of Central Florida v Penn State last August and another game is planned for next year.

McKenna believes that the Government should provide financial support to the GAA, whose long-term aim is to "establish Croke Park as the European capital of American College football".

Attracting college games to Croke Park is expensive but McKenna regards it as part of a long-term strategy, which requires Government backing.

"We brought last year's game without any Government support. I would hope that the Government would see the benefit of bringing 20,000 tourists into the country for a three- or four-day period.

"It generated a lot of money and certainly added to the vitality of the city. It could do that on a regular basis," he said.

Arrangements for next year's game are expected to be completed by the end of March, with August/September 2016 as the target date.

Fiasco

McKenna described the circumstances surrounding the cancellation of the Garth Brooks concerts last year as "a complete fiasco" and warned that it could happen again unless new regulations are fitted to the licensing process.

"It's essential that the licensing process is changed so that when people buy tickets for an event, they should have a reasonable expectation that it will take place," he said.

The Government established a Task Force to look into the licensing process after the Garth Brooks affair but it has not yet reported.

"We made detailed submissions, arising from our experiences. We laid out a series of recommendations and things that we believe need to happen under new legislation. We haven't heard anything back as yet.

"As things currently stand, you can still buy tickets for events, subject to licence. It should be more solid than that," said McKenna.

Croke Park will host three concerts this year but licensing is not required as they come under the terms of the stadium's planning permission.

The Garth Brooks controversy arose last year because the GAA needed a licence for the events, having used their planning permission allocation for One Direction concerts.

Irish Independent

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