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IFA wants Beyonce, Lady Gaga or One Direction to follow daredevils and stuntmen to Windsor Park

By Steven Beacom

George Best, Pat Jennings, Gerry Armstrong, David Healy and Michael O'Neill's Euro 2016 heroes have all strutted their stuff at Windsor Park through the decades.

But in a departure for the famous football stadium, a completely different type of entertainment is coming to Windsor on Friday, June 10 this year - it's called Nitro Circus and will see a host of daredevils performing incredible stunts and routines launching riders 50 feet in the air on motocross bikes, BMX bikes, trikes and even body boards.

A statement issued by the Irish FA boasted: "Fans will be given the opportunity to see the most explosive event in extreme sports and witness death-defying stunts, amazing tricks and unbelievable world firsts that have yet to be seen."

It is the first time the show has come to Northern Ireland and ironically will take place at Windsor just a few days before the country's footballers play their first game ever in the European Championships, against Poland in France on June 12.

The decision to stage the Nitro Circus at Windsor has been passed by the IFA and their Stadium Development Committee, and is a clear sign that the football authorities in Northern Ireland are intent on using the modernised stadium, much like the new Wembley, to stage non-football related activities.

IFA Chief Executive Patrick Nelson said: "We are delighted to welcome Nitro Circus to the National Football Stadium at Windsor Park.

"It will be the first large scale non-football sporting event to be staged at the redeveloped stadium and is in keeping with our plans to make it more than just a football stadium.

"We want it to be a venue for concerts and entertainment, large scale community activities and other sports events, so Nitro Circus is a great first step in that direction."

As Nelson suggests, the IFA have big plans to rent out the stadium as much as possible. It is another way, apart from football matches, to bring major revenue into the Association.

Irish FA President Jim Shaw told this newspaper two years ago that he would welcome hosting a Carl Frampton World title fight at the stadium. That is still very much on the IFA's radar in the future.

So too are major pop concerts. The sharp minded marketing people at the IFA want to bring the biggest pop acts in the world to their stadium, be that Beyonce, Lady Gaga or One Direction when the boyband reform.

Windsor Park, complete with a new Kop Stand after it was demolished last year, will be completely refurbished by September and have an 18,000 capacity, which will be significantly more than Belfast's SSE Arena, currently where most big music acts play concerts in Northern Ireland.

The IFA will watch with interest to see how successful Nitro Circus will be in selling tickets.

Formed in America, Nitro Circus describes itself as an action sports entertainment company and is currently touring across Europe to sell-out audiences.

At the weekend the event was at the O2 Arena in London. After the Belfast gig in June, the tour will move on to Dublin and Cork.

Nitro Circus say their current live tour is a spectacular production which takes excitement and entertainment to a new level with tricks, stunts and daredevil moves in extreme sports.

In the past the event has sold out at places such as Madison Square Garden in New York and packed the Rod Laver Tennis Arena in Melbourne.

Organisers are expecting thousands to turn up at Windsor and are targeting a family audience.

Michael Porra, Nitro Circus CEO and creative director, said: "We're ready to show a whole bunch of new cities and towns what we're all about and we're performing at some awesome outdoor locations."

Tickets for the show at Windsor go on sale this Friday via  www.nitrocircus.live

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