Garth Brooks Croke Park row: I have been shafted, says promoter Peter Aiken
The blame game begins over Croke Park concerts shambles
The Belfast-based promoter of five cancelled Garth Brooks concerts has claimed he was shafted by Dublin City Council after it only licensed three of five massive gigs planned for Croke Park.
Last night 400,000 fans were left counting the cost of the complete cancellation of the entire series of gigs.
As the bitter recriminations continued, devastated promoter Peter Aiken claimed he had been "shafted" by Dublin City Council.
Aiken Promotions, one of Europe's leading concert promoters with offices in Dublin and Belfast, now faces picking up the pieces after what was branded a "debacle" which "will be world news" by the mediator in the dispute, Kieran Mulvey.
Asked about the financial implications for his business, Mr Aiken replied: "It's going to be horrendous. How do you recover?"
Mr Aiken was not insured for the shows because insurance companies required a licence before providing cover. However, he was adamant that he will get over the setback.
The promoter doubted there would ever be another artist in his lifetime in Ireland that would sell 400,000 tickets.
"We went down every route we could go down. And the answer is that there is nowhere else to go," he said.
"He (Brooks) says there'll be flak – you'll take flak, I'll take the flak – but it's the right decision, and he's sticking to it.
"That's his decision, it's disappointing and we are devastated. It was going to be the biggest musical event, there will never be another artist in my lifetime going to do 400,000 tickets."
Brooks' decision to pull the plug on the three gigs which had been licensed came after he was informed a resident was seeking a High Court injunction to stop him performing in Croke Park.
Brooks had announced the day after the council refused permission for two gigs that he would do all five concerts or none at all.
Even though it became clear that the decision of the council could not be legally reversed, fans and businesses remained hopeful that at least three of the concerts – those booked for the Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights – would go ahead.
But the revelation that even those three gigs were under threat pushed the singer into deciding to pull out of what was to be the start of his comeback tour amid concerns it would be logistically impossible to stage the show.
A massive blame game kicked off last night between Aiken Promoters and Dublin City Council over the licensing arrangements.
Mr Aiken said he was "blindsided" and told how the first time he learned only three concerts were being licensed was last Wednesday night as he left a gig. He also claimed that at one point city officials suggested that four concerts would be an option.
"In 15 minutes it went from three to four, imagine being treated like that when they based their decision on the impact of a fourth and fifth concert. It's an unbelievable way of doing business," said Mr Aiken.
The council said that before a decision was made on the event licence application a conversation took place between Dublin City CEO Mr Keegan and a senior representative of Aiken.
The chief executive advised Aiken the likelihood was that only three concerts would be permitted. And after being told that Brooks would not perform just three concerts, the chief executive offered to discuss the possibility of allowing a fourth if a guarantee was given by the promoter that Brooks would fulfil the four events, the council stated.
Before any conversation took place the response was received from Aiken that unless all five concerts were permitted that Brooks would not appear.
Behind the scenes negotiations have been taking place between Aiken Promotions, the GAA, Mr Mulvey and Dublin Lord Mayor Christy Burke, with potential options touted such as matinee shows. But Mr Keegan firmly stated at a council meeting there was no way he could go back on the decision to grant three gigs.
The council last night stated it hoped Aiken Promotions would "reconsider its decision" not to proceed with the three gigs.
A statement from the promoter said the ticket return process will be outlined today.