Well, it was good for journalists. Acres of newsprint have been dedicated to the soap opera that is our national stadium story. I think this time the decision to redevelop will stick, even though it will have to go through the horrors of the best equipped NIMBYs and BANANAs in the country.
It was simple really. We need a big stadium and a little stadium. The pity is that it took ten years and tens of millions of euro for our masters to come round to this basic level of common wit.
But let’s look to the positive. Dublin will have two city centre stadia. This is fantastic news for the city and its economy. It’s great news for sports fans of all shades because the city centre is the easiest destination to get to for a national audience.
The news that the new stadium will be big enough to host GAA games is the icing on the cake. The IRFU can’t be seriously looking into the long distant future and thinking of playing England in a stadium of 50,000 when there’s another one two miles away that can accommodate 80,000.
That would be saying no to 30,000 England rugby fans who would easily be spending €500 a head in the city. I don’t think the IRFU, the GAA, the FAI, the city business community and the Government will let that happen. (Of course, it’s common sense, so you never know.)
Some people are saying that the GAA will never stage games at Lansdowne Road. This is nonsense. The GAA is not a monolith in this situation. There many bodies in the organisation making their own decisions.
In this case, the Leinster Council and the Dublin County Board will welcome the competition to Croke Park. Many of the games in the middle of the championship season attract crowds in the 20,000 to 40,000 range which would be much more suited to the new Lansdowne Road.
The one flaw in the plan is the absence of a roof. Ireland badly needs a stadium with a roof to protect the patrons and the playing surface in the winter months.
The new Lansdowne design is ideally suited for a roof as it will be built on a north-south alignment with both ends open.
The reasons for the low ends in the design are obvious: they wouldn’t have a hope of getting planning permission if they increased the profile of the stadium. But it also overcomes a major problem with ‘bowl’ type stadiums as well in that it allows in sunlight from the south while keeping the internal micro-climate conducive to growing good grass.
Surely it would be worth allowing some of our engineers to have a go at designing a roof for that would have minimal impact on the profile of the stadium while not breaking the bank. We might as well do the job right.
And a little one for Bertie
THERE must also be a market in Ireland for an indoor stadium in the 20,000 range.
You know, for rock concerts, big FAI domestic games, National League hurling and football, European Cup rugby and so on.
Maybe we could build that one out at Abbotstown.