Irish Independent link-up a major boost for Munster
Fitzgerald hails 10-year naming rights deal for Musgrave Park in new partnership with INM
The redevelopment of Musgrave Park into a modern stadium – thanks to the Independent News & Media group – will secure Munster's future in Cork, according to CEO Garrett Fitzgerald.
The venue will be renamed Irish Independent Park in a partnership agreement which will come into effect at the start of next season and will run for 10 years.
Fitzgerald said that the commitment by Independent News & Media to support the venture was a huge boost for rugby in Cork.
"The naming of Irish Independent Park allows Munster Rugby to progress on our redevelopment of the grounds and commit to our rugby future here," he said.
"Cork is a vital element of Munster Rugby's success and we are happy that Irish Independent Park will be central to rugby development in the region.
"Munster Rugby are delighted that Independent News & Media have committed to such a significant, long-term partnership."
The venue, which is home to Munster Rugby's commercial offices, will continue to host several Munster games each season, in addition to representative, club and schools games.
The naming rights sponsorship agreement will assist in creating permanency for Munster Rugby in Ireland's second largest city, including assisting with the redevelopment of the grounds.
As part of the naming rights agreement, Independent News & Media will also have extensive branding at the ground's entrance, on directional signage and on match-day programmes.
The chairman of Independent News & Media, Leslie Buckley, said that the renaming of the ground was indicative of the successful and established working relationship between Munster Rugby and Independent News & Media.
"Independent News & Media is delighted to confirm this new agreement with Munster Rugby and the renaming of Musgrave Park to Irish Independent Park," he said.
"This is hallowed ground for Munster Rugby and particularly for Cork supporters. The Irish Independent has a strong affinity with Munster Rugby, which is underpinned by our weekly rugby pullout exclusively for our Munster readers.
"We now look forward to positively and successfully building upon that relationship."
The CEO of Independent News & Media, Vincent Crowley, said the new arrangement demonstrated the company's commitment to developing rugby at all levels in Munster.
"INM are a proud partner to Munster Rugby, with the Irish Independent into its second season as official newspaper to the province.
"Irish Independent Park is a further demonstration of our continued support in helping to encourage and build the game of rugby in schools, clubs and at provincial level.
"We look forward to seeing some fantastic games in this superb stadium in the heart of Cork city and reporting on them in the Irish Independent and on independent.ie," he said.
Irish Independent Park has a wonderful history. The ground at Ballyphehane was purchased by the Munster Branch of the IRFU in 1938 and opened two years later. It has been home to the Dolphin and Sundays Well clubs since then.
The venue, aside from hosting hundreds of major representative, club and schools games, has staged some of Munster's most memorable fixtures, including a 3-3 draw with the All Blacks, when New Zealand snatched a share of the spoils in the dying moments.
Munster defeated Australia there three times. The first win was in 1967 when they triumphed 11-8 and their second was in 1981 when they prevailed by 15-6. In between, the Wallabies scored a 15-13 win in 1976.
Australia came to Musgrave Park as world champions in 1992 but Munster again came out on top by 22-19.
Now a new era has begun for the famed ground which will be known as Irish Independent Park for at least the next 10 years.