Lyons blasts €70m stadium 'madness'
THE decision to spend €70m on the redevelopment of Pairc Ui Chaoimh has been described as "disgraceful and offensive" by former Dublin and Offaly manager Tommy Lyons.
The Government is to provide €30m towards the cost of the project, which will feature a 45,000-capacity stadium and a Centre of Excellence.
"The Celtic mouse is just beginning to lift up his head after the recession and we're back to the madness. By all means, spend €70m on GAA facilities, infrastructure and coaching, but don't lump it into redeveloping a ground that will very rarely be full. For a start, Pairc Ui Chaoimh is in a terrible location.
"It would make far more sense to build a 20,000-stadium out on the ring road. I'm sure a lot of money needs to be spent on the GAA in Cork, but far more would be gained by spreading it around the county than redeveloping such a big stadium," he said.
Lyons said that the country is full of GAA stadiums with capacities that are rarely required, some of which are causing major financial problems for county boards.
"I thought the folly of continuing down that route had been recognised. What's needed are county grounds with a capacity of 15,000-20,000 and one large ground in each of the four provinces.
"I'm all for the redevelopment of Casement Park in Belfast, because it will be great amenity and will house most of the Ulster championship games when completed. It will be Ulster's top ground, easily accessible and used quite often," Lyons added.
"Thurles should be upgraded as Munster's top ground, making it as modern and comfortable as possible. It has an excellent surface and could easily take all the big Munster games. Instead of that, there are four massive grounds in Munster which are rarely filled. How does that make sense?"
He instanced Carrick-on-Shannon and Markievicz Park, Sligo as examples of neat, compact stadiums that were ideal for purpose, whereas MacHale Park, Castlebar and Pearse Stadium, Galway are large, costly grounds with excessive capacity for all but a few games.
"I cannot understand how the grown men on Central Council haven't recognised that building stadiums that will rarely be full is economic madness and now we're going to continue with it in Cork.
"It's fine to say that €30m is Government money, but the rest is GAA money, wherever it comes from.
"It could be spent far more wisely. I have to say I'm blown away by the decision. I thought those days were behind us," said Lyons.