Tales of the unexpected
The hard work in delivering a new stadium may be completed but that doesn’t mean that challenges wouldn’t still arise...
Some of the challenges that come with a new stadium you can anticipate. Some you can’t.
In 2008, for instance, the New York Yankees broke out the drills for some minor cosmetic work on their brand-new stadium, which had cost them a mere $800 million.
A Boston Red Sox fan had buried one of his team’s jersey in concrete on the site.
Gino Castignoli had taken a job for one day on the project in order to bury the jersey specifically to “jinx that stadium,” he told New York media.
The Yankees weren’t too concerned - until they started suffering injuries, including star Derek Jeter, who was unable to play in an early-season game against . . . the Red Sox.
Just in case there was any substance to that jinx, the team had the jersey exhumed and removed.
At the time of writing there were no indications a rogue plasterer had buried a Kerry jersey anywhere within the bowels of the new Pairc Ui Chaoimh, but more mundane questions may also be asked.
For instance, it’s not unknown for a new stadium to remain atmosphere-resistant for a while, while supporters get to grips with different surroundings - and different acoustics.
Many former players instanced the bowl effect in the old Pairc for creating a cauldron of noise.
In the new stadium the roof of the south stand may have a role to play.
A couple of years ago David Keirle, chairman of KSS sports architects and designers, told the BBC that Manchester United might be as well to bring in microphones because the acoustics were so unforgiving in Old Trafford.
“Noise travels by line of sight,” said Keirle.
“There are parts of Old Trafford where you can’t see or hear what’s going on in other parts,” he says, adding that his firm had designed a tilted roof for Brighton and Hove Albion’s new Amex Community Stadium which was built to retain noise and reflect it back onto the field: “You get long reverberations and people respond.” The closeness of supporters to the action in Pairc Ui Chaoimh Mark II is a positive, going on the experience of West Ham in their new lodgings, the London Stadium.
The benefits of a new state of the art stadium are offset by the fact that the ground was created for the Olympics - hence the running track, which creates a separation between supporter and action on the field of play inside that track.
One of those involved in planning the original stadium, former Burnley chief executive Paul Fletcher, went further and told reporters after crowd problems at a West Ham-Chelsea game that the ground should be demolished; Fletcher made the simple point that the venue is unsuitable for the sport it’s now being used for: “The stadium is so poor in football terms, it breeds poor behaviour. The stadium is fundamentally problematic and like a battleground for fans both inside and outside.
“There are issues such as the distances many fans find themselves from the pitch.
“It was set up for athletics so has shallow sight-lines, meaning many fans simply don’t have a good view.
“At the Chelsea match, large numbers of fans stood on the extended concourses as they have such a poor view from their seats. Even the route the fans had to take to get in and out of the stadium is a problem, as are segregation issues outside the ground due to wide open spaces.“
Of course, Gaelic games supporters don’t tend to behave like West Ham and Chelsea supporters, for which much thanks. But other issues may arise in the course of a busy afternoon on Leeside. Going on the experience in one of the most famous venues of all, you’d hope there are plenty of toilet facilities on hand.
Almost twenty years ago Luis Eduardo Cardoso, an engineer at the legendary Maracana stadium in Brazil, found a particular problem in the ground due to supporters being reluctant to leave their seats when . ..
“There is corrosion in all the entrance points to the stadium,” said Cardoso in 2000.
“We believe that the main cause of this structural damage is people going to the toilet.
“All those gallons of urine contain a lot of ammonia which acts with amazing speed. It eats through the concrete and then acts like acid on the steel girders, which is why the corrosion is so devastating.”
Brazilian supporters seem less inclined to make a rush to the doors marked FIR and MNA, then?
“When there are big games it can get pretty disgusting here with a really horrible smell,” added Cardoso.
“There is a huge volume of this liquid. If we don’t do something about it the very structure of the Maracana could be destroyed.”
The stadium authorities decided to get proactive, so they appointed an “antiurine” patrol of eight stewards to take action if they found anyone transgressing.
That’s one initiative you’d hope Páirc Uí Chaoimh II will never have to emulate.
LOOKING TO THE FUTURE:Valley Rovers selector John O’Sullivan looks on Valley Rovers take on Blarney at the Pairc Ui Chaoimh opener on Wednesday. Picture: INPHO/Oisin Keniry