Limerick GAA chiefs are hopeful that a major music event will take place at the Gaelic Grounds within the next 12 months.
Despite getting the go-ahead from Limerick City Council in early 2013, there has yet to be a major concert held at the Gaelic Grounds. It is estimated that a sold-out concert would benefit the Limerick region to the tune of €10 million.
An unpopular decision with local resident groups at the time, the GAA received provisional planning permission from the local authority which potentially allowed up to 49,000 people to attend music concerts at the Ennis Road venue.
A crowd of 26,508 filed through the turnstiles for the Tipperary-Waterford Munster SHC final in July, but no other game at the venue in 2016 recorded an attendance of over 10,000, with the sustainability of the Ennis Road venue being questioned by GAA fans in the city and county.
Limerick’s clash with Clare in late May in the Munster Football Championship quarter final only attracted a crowd of 3,343 at the Gaelic Grounds which emphasises Limerick GAA secretary Michael O’Riordan’s apprehension over the future of the venue. “The lack of games and events at the Gaelic Grounds is a major concern again this year,” he said.
It has been 12 years since the Gaelic Grounds reopened its doors after a major €12m redevelopment and speaking to the Limerick Voice, Mr O’ Riordan believes that his recent concerns about the viability of the Limerick city stadium could be coming to an end.
“Any operation the size of the Gaelic Grounds, you would always be worried about the sustainability of the facility,” he explained.
“It certainly requires more games and events but we are hopeful that over the next 12 months we will have something concrete.
“We’ve contacted all the various concert promoters in the country and outlined our stall, like other venues throughout the country that look for these events.
According to Mr O’Riordan, there have only been “between 60 and 70 games including the schools games,” in 2016 which the Limerick GAA secretary believes is an issue for the Limerick County Board.
“When the Gaelic Grounds was redeveloped, the issue was that only field sports could be played at the venue.
“A substantial cost was incurred to remove the stipulation with feasibility studies included in that. The facility requires events such as concerts to keep it going.” he added.
Despite the concerns of the sustainability of the Gaelic Grounds, the Limerick GAA secretary believes that there is a possibility in the future to further develop the Ennis Road venue.
“A part of the strategic plan going for the next three years, there will be a feasibility study done in relation to the Mackey Stand and we are also looking to cover the North Stand.” added Mr O’Riordan.
With the omission of the Gaelic Grounds from the IRFU’s recent Rugby World Cup bid and the fact that there have only been six games that have attracted attendances of over 10,000 people to the venue since 2013, underlines the demand for a major music event at the Limerick GAA headquarters.
An event would not only benefit Limerick GAA county board but it will also be a huge benefit to the local economy in Limerick city, especially businesses near the ground.