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GAA director general Paraic Duffy refuses to rule out selling the naming rights to Croke Park


A general view of an empty Croke Park

A general view of an empty Croke Park

?INPHO/Donall Farmer

A general view of an empty Croke Park

GAA director general Paraic Duffy remains "absolutely confident" that the redevelopment of Pairc Ui Chaoimh and Casement Park will go ahead despite recent setbacks.

Reports suggested that Pairc Ui Chaoimh's €70m revamp into a state-of-the-art 45,000-capacity stadium had run into complications due to paperwork requirements but Duffy played down any suggestion the projects could face a significant delays.

"Pairc Ui Chaoimh will be fine," he said. "It's an issue between Cork and the Department, in terms of documentation, but I'm absolutely confident that will be resolved. I think the Department are looking for information, and the way Cork presented that isn't exactly the way they wanted. But I've no doubt it will be resolved."

Duffy conceded that the bid to rebuild Casement Park had run into more serious obstacles after the project failed to gain planning permission after a clash with a local residents group.

The GAA are looking to turn the Belfast venue into a modern 38,000-capacity venue that would form a hub for GAA activities in Ulster.

"We've a few issues with Casement Park, as well, which means reapplying for planning permission," said Duffy.

"Pairc Ui Chaoimh shouldn't be severely affected. Casement has slowed down, but I'm confident it can go through, and I'm very committed to it.

"I expect both Casement and Pairc Ui Chaoimh to be completed, maybe a little later in terms in Casement, but long before the Rugby World Cup."

With weaker counties in need of further funding, Duffy suggested that selling naming rights for GAA Stadia was a way to get direct money into counties and he refused to rule out selling the rights for Croke Park in the future.

"There's nothing against stadium rights," he said.

"We have Kingspan Breffni Park etc. So we've accepted the principle of it. And if Cork come to us with a proposal (for Paric Ui Chaoimh), we'd certainly look at it. It would be up tp them to come up with a proposal.

"We have never had any offers on Croke Park, nor have we sough it. It has never been discussed, really. That's for the GAA to decide. But I don't see it as likely. I can't talk for 50 or 100 years down the line. But in the near future I would say, no."

His confidence is a welcome shot in the arm for Ireland's hopes of hosting the 2023 Rugby World Cup as both stadia form part of the bid to bring the competition here.

In their current state, neither venue could form part of the bid, which is due to be decided upon in mid-2017.

Duffy was speaking at the Irish Sports Council's funding announcement for grass-roots development in the three major field sports.

The GAA (€2.4m), IRFU (€2.36m) and FAI (€2.7m) didn't see a cut to their funding, which remains at 2014 levels.

"We're very happy with that," Duffy said. "It's on a three-year basis, so we kind of knew what to expect. We weren't expecting any increase. We'd be hoping, going forward, that perhaps there could be an increase in future years, bearing in mind the economy is improving."

Duffy admitted that the GAA face significant challenges in their attempts to complete the GAA season in a calendar year.

However, he reiterated his commitment to the idea despite the slow nature of progress to date.

"We may have to address some of the calendar year issues. It is slow. There has been some negative reaction to it. But I think all the issues can be overcome," he said.

"Whether we will be ready to bring it in next year is questionable but the commitment to bring it in is still there. We still believe it is the way forward but we have to address the concerns people have.

"We have to resolve those. Do we have solutions? No. Are we working on them? Yes. And we still believe it is the way forward.

"We have to reassure dual counties we can deal with the issues they have and we are trying to do that but we are not going to rush that."


Source: Irish Independent

Belfast Telegraph

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