Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 2 September 2014

Bruce Springsteen, Bob Dylan or Dolly Parton could help out GAA

Telegraph Sport: where the debate starts

Croke Park is a triumph of volunteerism
Croke Park is a triumph of volunteerism

We covered it last week, but it's interesting to revisit Croke Park Stadium and Commercial Director Peter McKenna informing us that Croker is now debt-free.

He explained how that was so, a list of financial terms and executions that flew over most of our heads, but the important thing was that for the first time in its' history, the GAA completely owns a 82,300 capacity stadium.

Believe it or not, it was a Limerick sports journalist Frank Dineen, who bought Croke Park in 1908 and held it in trust until the GAA could raise the money to buy it off him. Back then it was a 14-acre racecourse. Today it is an awesome sight and a triumph of volunteerism.

Yet, the nature of Gaelic Games and the role it plays within society is changing. Now, Croke Park, and by extension the GAA, can look forward to a bumper year with Garth Brooks selling out four times over, and One Direction also to get togged out beneath the Hogan Stand. Then we have the Celtic Classic American football game.

GAA venues, with their elongated pitches and comfortable stands are quite impressive as concert venues. Last April, 3,000 paid through the gates of the Athletic Grounds to see Nathan Carter for reasons best kept to themselves.

Bruce Springsteen played at Nowlan Park, Kilkenny, which has also hosted Andrea Bocelli, Bob Dylan a few times and Dolly Parton.

It is thought that around half a dozen county boards are in serious financial trouble. Yet the solution most of them will come up with is a monster raffle.

Time to dig out the number for Bob or Bruce or Dolly, lads.

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