Friday 19 January 2018

GAA County Boards urged cash in on ground naming

Pairc Ui Chaoimh could be the next GAA ground to sell its naming rights
Pairc Ui Chaoimh could be the next GAA ground to sell its naming rights
Colm Keys

Colm Keys

Pairc Ui Chaoimh could provide Cork County Board with a lucrative pot if they are prepared to sell the naming rights of the redeveloped stadium.

It is currently undergoing renovation at a cost of €70m to transform it into a modern 45,000 all-seater stadium.

But as a fifth county board signed up to a naming rights this week, the potential for Cork County Board has been highlighted by the director of a Dublin-based sponsorship consultancy.

With the GAA at central level unlikely to trade the naming rights of Croke Park, Onside Sponsorship's John Trainor believes Pairc Ui Chaoimh is the "really interesting one" for the association.

"Pairc Ui Chaoimh will have a lot going for it and will be an attraction. That could be the beacon," he said.

It remains to be seen if Cork County Board would be prepared to do a deal on the naming rights of their principal ground which also been a concert venue in the past.

With the potential to host concerts and matches in a future Rugby World Cup as well as the high-profile championship games it has always attracted the Leeside venue is "the next big thing" according to Trainor.

Trainor says that attitudes to branded stadia are changing across the board and that the GAA is no different.

But he is not surprised that so few counties have gone down this avenue as a potential revenue stream.

"I think there has been a 'wait and see' approach to this. There has been caution to establish if a fan base or a community is receptive to it, to see if is acceptable.

"But more and more it has become acceptable. When you see the success of the O2 in Dublin and subsequently the 3Arena and then the Aviva Stadium it shows that naming rights do work," he said.

Wexford became the fifth county board to sell naming rights to their main ground when Innovate, a local technological company, signed up to a minimum four-year deal.

Kingspan's name has long been associated with Breffni Park in Cavan while in recent years Elvery's have linked up with Mayo to attach their name to MacHale Park with Glennon Brothers, a local business, sponsoring Pearse Park in Longford. Only last month Carlow County Board signed a deal for 'Netwatch Cullen Park.'

Many other counties are engaging with companies to explore the potential for the sale of their naming rights. Trainor says 50pc of all rights-holders are actively exploring naming rights according to a survey they have conducted.

He sees real potential in the naming rights of GAA stadia provided the brand goes beyond just "passive awareness. It's how they go and activate that sponsorship, like putting batteries in the remote control after getting it."

Meanwhile the Clare motion to give Central Council the power open up all principal county grounds to other sports looks like it might fall short of the two-thirds majority.

Dublin, Limerick and Cork, which carry three of the biggest voting blocks to Congress because of their club numbers, have all opposed it so far.

Meath, Westmeath and Derry are also opposed but there are a surprisingly high number of counties who do favour it including Cavan, Monaghan and Down in Ulster.

Galway, Kildare and Wexford all intend supporting the motion.

The architect of the proposal is Noel Walsh, who had a big part to play in driving successive motions to Congress to open up Croke Park.

Walsh accepts that use of county grounds by other sports would be minimal but it could give the likes of Galway, Limerick and Cork an opportunity to raise additional revenue if provincial rugby matches could not be accommodated in those cities because of capacity.

Irish Independent

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