Croke Park, the iconic stadium in Dublin, is set to undergo a major upgrade with the replacement of seating on the lower decks. The cost of this replacement will be €2.8m, bringing the overall upgrade spend to around €15m. In addition, the Cusack Stand dressing-rooms and premium level will be overhauled at a cost of €12m. The renovation of the Cusack Stand is expected to be completed by next May, while the seating replacement is scheduled to be finished by December.
Stadium Director Peter McKenna explained that the work would have been completed by now if not for the financial impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. McKenna emphasized the importance of the upgrade, stating that the seating replacement was long overdue. He also highlighted the significance of the Cusack Stand, which has been a witness to many iconic moments in the last 28 years.
The seats will be sold in pairs, with a limit of 250 sales in order to preserve their novelty and value. McKenna suggested that the original seats, once reconditioned, could be attractive to individuals who have fond memories of these iconic moments. He mentioned the possibility of using the seats in private bars or back gardens.
The renovation of the Cusack Stand will not only improve its facilities but also enhance the stadium’s ability to host conferences simultaneously on that side. Currently, moving from one end of the stand to the other requires access through the Cusack Suite. However, a new corridor is being built to provide privacy to the Cusack Suite and access to the Ash Suite at the Hill 16 End. This will make the building more flexible for events held during the week.
McKenna also revealed plans to create a new “reveal” of the pitch for supporters when they step out onto level five after using the lifts and escalators. The aim is to enhance the overall experience for spectators.
In addition to the seating replacement and Cusack Stand renovation, extensive work is planned for the dressing-rooms and the club wall. McKenna acknowledged that these areas have become outdated and need to be modernized. The renovated Cusack Stand will also reflect the volunteer work of men and women in the Association, while the Hogan Stand will have a more player-centric focus.
The redevelopment of Croke Park is seen as necessary due to the natural life cycle of materials and the constant need for repairs and maintenance in such a large facility. McKenna compared it to the upkeep of a domestic environment, highlighting the need to replace worn-out items. He emphasized that Croke Park is a massive facility with various systems that require regular attention.
Despite the financial challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic, Croke Park managed to generate almost €33m in 2022 from various sources, including match rent, rent of corporate facilities, and concerts. This allowed for a dividend of €17m to be redistributed to Central Council.
The completion of the seating replacement and Cusack Stand renovation will further enhance the status of Croke Park as one of the premier sporting and entertainment venues in Ireland. The upgrades will not only provide improved facilities for spectators but also increase the stadium’s versatility for hosting a range of events.