Páirc Uí Chaoimh
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|Location||Blackrock, County Cork, Ireland|
|Field size||144 m x 88 m|
2014-16 (In Progress)
|Construction cost||IR£2 million|
Páirc Uí Chaoimh (Irish pronunciation: [ˈpˠaːɾʲc iː ˈxiːvʲ]) is a GAA stadium in the Ballintemple area of Cork in Ireland, where major hurling and Gaelic football matches are played. It is the home of Cork GAA. The stadium had an original capacity of about 50,000, but it capacity has been progressively reduced because of safety regulations to the current figure of 32,550 [Covered Sean McCarthy Stand 9,500, Uncovered Stand 10,000, Sideline Seating None, Blackrock End Terrace 12,000, City End Terrace 12,000 and Wheelchair Area 50]. Páirc Uí Chaoimh is Cork GAA's first pitch.
The stadium annually hosts the finals of the Cork senior hurling and senior football championships. It also frequently hosts games in the National Hurling League, National Football League, Munster Hurling Championship and Munster Football Championship.
History of the area
Sports meetings were frequently held on the area now occupied by Páirc Uí Chaoimh even before the establishment of the Gaelic Athletic Association. By the late 1890s the Cork County Board were allowed by the Cork Agricultural Company, the leaseholders of the land, to enclose a portion of the site for the playing of Gaelic Games. The county board built its own stadium on the land. The Cork Athletic Grounds opened in 1904 and hosted All-Ireland finals, Munster finals and National League games. Some developments took place over the years, however, by the 1970s the Athletic Grounds were in poor condition and a new plan was drawn up. It is now standing next to the C.A.B. Ford garage.
In 1974 the ground was completely demolished to make way for a totally new stadium. It was an ambitious plan, one that the GAA had never embarked on before. Páirc Uí Chaoimh was to be the new name for the GAA's first custom-built stadium. The modern bowl-shaped stadium features one covered stand, an open-air stand and two terraces behind each goalpost. The main stand is named after Sean Mac Carthaigh, Cork's second president of the GAA. The stadium itself is named after Pádraig Ó Caoimh, a native of Roscommon; this Irish War of Independence veteran became secretary of the Cork County Board at 21, and he began a 35-year stint as General Secretary of the GAA barely a decade later. Páirc Uí Chaoimh was officially opened on June 6, 1976 by Con Murphy, then president of the GAA. On the opening day the Cork hurlers played Kilkenny while the Cork footballers took on Kerry.
U2 played the final show on the European leg of the Joshua Tree Tour on Saturday August 8, 1987. On 30 and 31 July 1988, Michael Jackson performed at the stadium twice as part of his Bad World Tour, with a combined attendance of 110,000. U2 played again at the stadium on 24 August 1993 on their ZooTv Tour. 1995 saw the Féile Festival being transferred to Pairc Ui Chaoimh for one year, with the line-up including The Stone Roses, Paul Weller and Kylie Minogue. Oasis then performed two nights at the stadium on 14 and 15 August 1996 following their gigs at Knebworth where they had played to 250,000 people over two nights. Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band played at the stadium on 18 July 2013.
In 2005 the Cork County Board took the decision to replace all wood bench seats with plastic bucket seats in both the covered and open stands. Due to the shape of the new bucket seats, overall legroom has been reduced substantially with many complaining of being unable to sit in the seat entirely. In response, the Cork County Board had the tops cut off the back of each seat to marginally improve the legroom.
In October 2007 the Cork County Boards announced plans to redevelop Páirc Uí Chaoimh into a state-of-the-art 60,000-seat sports and concert venue in conjunction with the Cork Docklands redevelopment which was estimated to cost over €30m. If these plans had gone ahead, Cork would have had the second largest stadium in the country behind Croke Park, which has a capacity of 82,300. The Cork stadium would have been bigger than Aviva Stadium (51,000), while also outstripping other Munster GAA venues.
In June 2010, Cork City Council voted in favour of the proposal to make 6.82 acres (27,600 m2) of land next to Páirc Uí Chaoimh available for the redevelopment of the stadium. As part of the redevelopment, a new Centre of Excellence will be built along with ancillary all-weather pitch, floodlights, 1,000 seat stand, gym and changing and medical facilities. There will also be a museum, dining facilities and a 400-space car park.
The stadium is expected to have a small increase in capacity which will be 45,000 when completed. The development had been subject to local opposition as residents were angry that land used for the redevelopment was earmarked for a public park. With Cork's average attendance not breaking 20,000 in 2011, there have been questions asked of the need for such a big venue, including by the Munster Council Secretary Pat Fitzgerald. In summer 2013, it was announced that an application was being lodged to redevelop the stadium, but due to financial difficulties the project was put on hold. In April 2014, Cork County Board and Cork City Council announced that they had been given the green light to proceed with the redevelopment project of the stadium.
The capacity once redeveloped will be as follows.
- New 3-tier South Stand (covered) 13,000 seats (up from its current level of 9,435)
- Refurbished North stand (covered) 8,000 seats (down from its current level of 10,030)
- Refurbished East and West Terrace 12,000 capacity each (uncovered)
In May 2014, the Government sanctioned a €30 million grant to help fund the €70 million regeneration of the stadium. The work was due to start in summer 2014 with it completed by autumn 2016. On July 6, 2014, it hosted its last ever provincial football final in the old stadium with rivals Kerry running out comfortable winners 0-24 to Cork 0-12. It also hosted the 2014 Munster Senior Hurling Championship Final on July 13, 2014, with Cork beating rivals Limerick, 2-24 to 0-24, the final inter county game before the demolition takes place. In November 2014 An Bord Pleanala gave the green light to redevelop the stadium with construction to start in January 2015 and completed by January 2017.
First aid and safety
For all major games, there are dedicated first aiders and ambulance personnel available in the event of any medical emergency in the Stadium. St John Ambulance, Cork City First Aid and Ambulance Division, works in conjunction with the HSE to provide this free service.
Records and capacity
Current capacity comprises 9,500 seated in the covered (Sean McCarthy) stand, 10,000 in the uncovered stand, approximately 12,000 in the "Blackrock end" terrace, approximately 12,000 in the "City end" terracing, and 50 in the wheelchair area.
- Cork GAA website
- Irish Times report
- RTÉ news report
- "Páirc Uí Chaoimh redevelopment approved by Cork City Council". RTE Sport. 24 April 2014. Retrieved 16 May 2014.
- "Planning permission granted for Cork GAA’s €70m redevelopment of Páirc Uí Chaoimh". The Score. 24 April 2014. Retrieved 16 May 2014.
- "Cabinet grants €30m for regeneration of Páirc Uí Chaoimh". Irish Examiner. 14 May 2014. Retrieved 16 May 2014.
- St John Ambulance