See­ing is be­liev­ing at new Páirc

Irish Examiner - Supplement - - PÁIRC UÍ CHAOIMH SPECIAL - John Fog­a­rty

If the old Páirc Uí Chaoimh had a snag list, it would have ex­tended to reams but few other GAA stadiums could boast as many ex­cel­lent van­tage points. Cork chair­man Ger Lane prom­ises that is the one el­e­ment of the place that hasn’t been lost in spite of its re­con­struc­tion.

“I’ve been to ev­ery cor­ner of the sta­dium and one thing that struck me about it which is sim­i­lar to the old sta­dium is that no mat­ter where you were you had a very good view,” he says.

“It was al­ways spo­ken about of Páirc Uí Chaoimh, whether you were in the mid­dle of the stand or on the ter­race you had a great view with this bowl ef­fect and the new sta­dium has very much re­tained that as­pect.

“The old sta­dium had a lot of faults but it had great view­ing ev­ery­where. It’s un­recog­nis­able in ev­ery other as­pect in terms of its com­forts and what’s avail­able there.”

Pa­trons at Wed­nes­day’s club will have no­ticed just as those who at­tend to­mor­row and Sun­day’s All-Ireland quar­ter-fi­nals that the di­men­sions of the pitch ri­val the size of Croke Park. The seats are a sim­i­lar shade of grey too, which has sur­prised some of the Cork fol­low­ing.

“We think they’re light grey and dark grey,” smiles Lane.

“Strong colours tend to fade and we knew a lot of our seats would be in the sun­light. I know soc­cer stadiums re­place their seats reg­u­larly but they prob­a­bly have more fi­nan­cial where­withal to deal with that whereas we may not.

“We felt that we should go with some­thing close to what Croke Park have done, which has lasted a long time. They’re re­plac­ing seats now but they would have been over 20 years there. We felt if we went with a bright red seat it would fade very easy and look shabby af­ter a short space of time.” Sim­i­lar but not iden­ti­cal to the Gaelic Grounds, teams will en­ter from separate tun­nels either end of the South­ern (Cov­ered/Sean McCarthy) stand. The joke go­ing around is it will avoid a re­peat of “Sem­ple­gate” but it too adds to the bowl ef­fect of the sta­dium.

As far as park­ing fa­cil­i­ties go, they re­main more or less the same as be­fore. And this is a point Lane wants to take up — he ar­gues GAA sup­port­ers have to buy into the idea of us­ing pub­lic trans­port or park­ing away from sta­dia.

“There has al­ways been talk about park­ing with Páirc Uí Chaoimh but any place you go there seems to be prob­lems with the vol­ume of traf­fic. In this case, it’s not go­ing to be much dif­fer­ent but we will have a trans­port man­age­ment plan and we’re work­ing on that. We would also hop­ing to link up with Bus Éire­ann in terms of park and ride.

“We’re not that far from the city cen­tre for people walk­ing out. I know some people who came to see the sta­dium in re­la­tion to the Rugby World Cup couldn’t be­lieve we had the sta­dium so close to the city in terms of walk­ing dis­tance.

“Some­times a lot of us GAA people think we must al­most park be­hind the goals. We prob­a­bly all are at fault of think­ing that. Other sports around Europe, you park well away from the sta­dium. You get your bus or your taxi. People’s at­ti­tude to­wards park­ing close to stadiums has to change and I would hope we would learn from other sports and park up in town and get a park and ride bus to the sta­dium.”

Adeal for nam­ing rights to the sta­dium is not in the off­ing. “We’re work­ing to­wards that and have spo­ken with people about it but we have noth­ing fi­nalised. It’s a big sit­u­a­tion for any com­pany to at­tach their name to a sta­dium and it some­times takes a while to get an agree­ment. It’s some­thing we in­tend to have down the road but I can’t put the time­line on it.”

Lane in­sists the sta­dium will be open to stage games for most if not all ages. “We made com­mit­ments to the var­i­ous bod­ies lo­cally that it would be avail­able and the sec­ond play­ing pitch would be avail­able to the lo­cal schools, Sciath na Scóil and Harty Cup.

“I think Páirc Ui Chaoimh will have an ef­fect on Cork as Croke Park did on the GAA in gen­eral. It is a home, some­thing we’re proud of. Ev­ery player wants to play in Croke Park and we would be hop­ing that ev­ery­body in Cork will want to play in Páirc Uí Chaoimh, that when clubs are in­volved in cham­pi­onship matches around the county that they make it a goal to get to the quar­ter-fi­nal or semi-fi­nal partly be­cause it will be played in Páirc Uí Chaoimh. I think it will have a huge ef­fect on young people play­ing our games.

“The last three or four weeks, has been a phe­nom­e­nal time for Cork hurl­ing, the U17s, the mi­nors, the U21s and the se­niors. The sta­dium is com­ing at a good time for us.”

Pic­ture: Ge­orge Hatchell

KILLER VIEWS: Cork County Board Chair­man Ger Lane. ‘No mat­ter where you were in the old Páirc Uí Chaoimh you had a great view and it’s the same with the new sta­dium.’

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