Sport

Páirc Uí Chaoimh has a very important role to play to help One Cork hit its target

December 7th, 2020 9:00 AM

By Kieran McCarthy

Incoming county board chairman Marc Sheehan says ‘Páirc Uí Chaoimh is in a difficult position but we are very much seeing a pathway to progress.’

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PÁIRC Uí Chaoimh will be front and centre of the new One Cork brand that expects to generate over €20 million in the next five years.

The headline figure from the launch of One Cork is that the new programme is hoping to realise in excess of €20 million in the next five years – and Cork GAA CEO Kevin O’Donovan feels that it’s a realistic target.

An ambitious programme, it’s the amalgamation of all the existing organisations working to further the sport across the county, including the Cork County Board, the Páirc Uí Chaoimh stadium board and the fundraising body Cairde Chorcaí, as well as clubs and supporters of Cork GAA.

The plan is to bring in revenue from investment and commercial activity – and Páirc Uí Chaoimh has a key role to play as it can generate income through naming rights for elements of the stadium, hold concerts and conferences, as well as being developed as a national venue for events.

Speaking to the Star Sport Podcast, Kilmeen-Kilbree clubman Kevin O’Donovan believes that Páirc Uí Chaoimh, which has an outstanding debt of €33 million, has a central role to play in helping One Cork reach its target.

‘It’s strange in a way that Páirc Uí Chaoimh has been seen in a negative way in terms of the debt and the spend on the project and so on. From day one Páirc Uí Chaoimh was supposed to generate money for clubs and players in the county, and we haven’t given up on that dream yet. There are a few more stormy waters to go through in the short term, but that is the goal of Páirc Uí Chaoimh,’ O’Donovan explained.

‘We really think the pitch is the game-changer here. The fact that it’s now robust means that it can take the traffic, it could take a camogie double-header (last Saturday), it could take inter-county games over the last period and it can take concerts.

‘The new stitched pitch means we don’t plan on taking up the pitch to put down a stage for a concert because the pitch can take the pressure from it, and we think there really are opportunities now to generate income from the stadium, which was always the plan but maybe we lost our way a bit for the last couple of years.’

Given that One Cork, through investment and commercial activity, is expected to realise over €20 million in revenue over the next five years, O’Donovan hasn’t ruled out Páirc Uí Chaoimh hosting rugby or soccer matches if it raises funds that will go back to GAA clubs in the county.

‘We are very much bound by general rule in that aspect and there are certain conditions – if it’s in the national interest, if the request comes through a governing body and so on – and there are a few hurdles like that it has to jump, but for the good of our grassroots game in Cork, we wouldn’t rule out any aspect of generating revenue in that stadium. That’s my view,’ O’Donovan said.

‘If this revenue goes back to the clubs and back to our games, it’s not my business to be ruling anything out, notwithstanding the fact that for other sports to take place in GAA grounds there’s a set number of criteria that it has to reach and it has to get clearance from the governing body.

‘If I am looking at the commercial side I’d rule nothing out, and still be respectful to the rules of the association.’

Cork GAA CEO O’Donovan also feels that One Cork’s target of generating over €20 million over the next five years is realistic, and he pointed out that across a number of key areas there are almost 50 different revenue streams that can be explored.

‘The €20 million target is realistic if you consider the broad aspect which it incorporates – and that’s across the stadium and the county board,’ O’Donovan explained.

‘Our business plan has four pillars: corporate revenue, supporters, campus which is our two stadia, and community initiatives which are non-profitable really, like the Go Red campaign.

‘Across the campus, it’s looking at concerts, it’s looking at stadium rental, it’s looking at minor events, conferencing, meetings and events, 4G pitch rental. From the county board side we will look at Páirc Uí Rinn to see if it can break even because it costs money at the moment.

‘When you look at the corporate side, you have our sponsorship deals with The Examiner, with Bon Secours, with Dairygold, you’ve the jersey sponsor, you’ve the naming rights sponsor, you’ve all the advertising hoarding in Páirc Uí Chaoimh.

‘Then you come to the supporters and you have Premium seats, season tickets, members’ clubs, patronage schemes. Across all those areas we saw a possible 50 revenue streams, and from that €20 million over five years becomes realistic.

‘It may mean bringing in €4 million from commercial revenue annually but we have a €100 million asset. While it’s ambitious we would want to be bringing in that type of commercial revenue from the stadium. Now that the pitch is sorted, now that we can take more games, it starts becoming a more realisable dream.

‘I do respect that the €20 million figure looks daunting to start with but we intent to break it up into chunks.’

Funds generated will be used to invest into clubs, schools and county structures, as well as help with debt repayment plans.

‘If you met anyone on the street they’d know the difficulties that Cork GAA faces but they’ll also understand the opportunities that Cork GAA has. One Cork is trying to encapsulate that into a package,’ O’Donovan added.

  • The One Cork steering group includes: Kevin O’Donovan (chairperson), Ted Owens (vice-chairperson), Michael O’Flynn, Jim Woulfe, Kieran Calnan, Tracey Kennedy, Marc Sheehan, Diarmuid Gowen, John Mullins, Tomás Mulcahy, Conor McCarthy, Seán O’Brien and Sinéad O’Keeffe.

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