‘The new Páirc will be a magnificent resource’
The original Cork Athletic Grounds was officially opened as a Sports Grounds in 1904. Páirc Uí Chaoimh stadium, as it became known, was built on the same site on 1976, becoming the first custombuilt stadium in the history of the Association.
After nearly 40 years in operation, Páirc Uí Chaoimh stadium no longer met the needs of the Association and particularly of its players, spectators and media.
For the best part of a decade, consideration was given to the redevelopment of the stadium. Crucial to such development was the acquiring of additional adjoining lands, as the existing Stadium had been built on a very confined space.
An important achievement, therefore, was the acquiring, on a purchase basis, of over 6.5 acres of land from Cork City Council.
The County Committee had over the years put aside some of its income as a capital fund to be used for the stadium redevelopment. However, the most crucial investment came from outside the county’s capabilities, in terms of grants provided by the Government, Central Council and Munster Council to the amount of €53,750,000 million. It should be noted that these substantial grants were provided to the County Committee for the sole purpose of developing a stadium that would do credit to the county, to the Association and to its games.
A design team of Malachy Walsh & Partners (consulting engineers), Scott Tallon Walker (architects), Michael Barrett Partnership (quantity surveyors) and Cunnane Stratton Reynolds (planning) was put in place.
Various options for design were considered before coming down in favour of that of the now completed stadium. It incorporates two new stands with a capacity of 21,000 and new terraces each with a capacity of 12,000, giving a total capacity in the Stadium of 45,000.
The new Páirc Uí Chaoimh provides a magnificent resource for our players in terms of stadium facilities and the new 4G allweather playing pitch. Floodlighting is being provided in both playing arenas with the main Stadium having LED lighting of 1,500 lux.
Modern and comfortable facilities are provided for spectators. The stadium retains its bowl shape which ensures that there is a clear view of the playing arena from all parts. An international catering company - Compass — has been appointed as stadium caterers and will be active in promoting the stadium for conferences and other events.
There are 33 food and beverages units throughout the new stadium. It is intended to be operated as a business that will in time provide a revenue for the promotion of our games in the county.
The Centre of Excellence, which comprises facilities within the stadium at a cost €6.5 million, and the 4G floodlit, maximum size GAA pitch, provides a magnificent facility for our intercounty teams, as well as clubs and schools.
Páirc Uí Chaoimh will have state of the art communications technology thanks to our partnership with Vodafone Ireland which will greatly benefit fans and business users.
While all of the stadium was developed to a high standard, the Premium Level is particularly excep- tional and the objective is that it provide a substantial amount of income towards overall development costs. It is crucial therefore that the business community and GAA members and supporters be receptive towards ensuring that an important 10-year scheme at this level is fully funded.
The local GAA has been greatly assisted in many ways by our national headquarters and in particular sustained support has been received from the Director General Paraic Ó Dufaigh for which we are most grateful.
It has been a privilege to work with my colleagues on the Project Steering Committee, Bob Ryan as chairman, Ger Lane, Christy Cooney and Pearse Murphy. It received great support from the County Committee Executive and from the business committee under the chairmanship of John Mullins.
We are appreciative too of the support received from the local Residents’ Association. As part of planning, traffic plans have been prepared in respect of all anticipated attendances and it is intended to have these fully implemented.
The stadium is getting off to a great start this coming weekend with the staging of two outstanding All-Ireland hurling quarter-final games, in addition to recent unprecedented sales for three Ed Sheeran Concerts, which are being staged at the venue in 10 months’ time.
The GAA in Cork welcomes its magnificent new stadium and headquarters, which will greatly enhance the promotion of our national games.
Frank Murphy is secretary of the Cork County Board
Cork GAA County Board secretary Frank Murphy at Páirc Uí Caoimh earlier this week.