Benefit of Garth Brooks gigs outweighs disruption - residents

Vintners Association claims loss of Croke Park concerts could cost Dublin pubs €15 million


Residents living close to Croke Park, who support the Garth Brooks concerts being held at the stadium, held a protest today calling for licences to be given for all five concerts.

On Thursday Dublin City Council refused permission for two of the five gigs planned for Croke Park at the end of the month.

The group, Ballybough Residents Supporting Croke Park, say concerts at the stadium create much needed local employment which far outweighs any disruption.

“It’s only five nights, and for those nights the young teenagers here get jobs at the stadium, at the bars and the hot dog stands. These kids get money in their pockets and get something to do,” local resident Lorraine Gavin said.

Paul Dixon, spokesman for the group, who also lives in the area, said he supported the conclusion reached by chief executive of the Labour Relations Commission Kieran Mulvey that the concerts should be allowed go ahead this year, with a reduced number of events over the next two years and a community fund to be put in place.

“One of the big problems was the failure of people to agree and the number of different groups Mr Mulvey had to deal with. There needs to be one group set up as the recognised residents group that deals with Croke Park that could have representation from all different residents’ organisations.”

Publicans are also calling for all five concerts to be given licences. The Licensed Vintners Association has written to council chief executive Owen Keegan, urging him to reverse his decision not to allow two of the proposed five concerts . The association said the Dublin economy simply “can’t afford”to see the concerts cancelled.

It estimates that the loss of the five concerts could cost Dublin pubs as much as €15 million. Speaking today, association chief executive Donall O’Keeffe said Dublin publicans were appalled at the turn of events.

“This is still a very difficult economy for every business in the city and the Garth Brooks concerts promised a hugely significant financial boost for pubs and for the wider hospitality industry. It is simply unbelievable that the city manager who oversees a penal commercial rates and water charge regime for businesses in the City took the decision to cancel concerts that could help us afford the high charge regime.”

‘Working behind the scenes’

Aiken Promotions and Croke Park have been “working behind the scenes” this weekend in an attempt to find a way to allow Garth Brooks concerts due to take place at the end of July to go ahead, the promoter behind the gigs said yesterday.

Peter Aiken of Aiken Promotions told The Business on RTE Radio 1 yesterday that he “hasn’t given up hope”.

“There’s still a bit of hope. There’s still work going on behind the scenes, both (by) ourselves and Croke Park and I think a final decision will have to be made Monday or Tuesday”.

“We’re just going to keep working away as much as we can, meeting as many people as we can and doing whatever we can to try and get some light at the end of this,” he said, adding that they were also in constant contact with Garth Brooks and his representatives.

However, Mr Aiken said that as things stood yesterday “there’s no concerts”.

Mr Aiken said Brooks had made it clear that it “was either five (concerts) or none” adding “I don’t think he will back down”.

“The whole thing was based around an event which was the five shows. And Garth Brooks is the type of guy that, if he came in and he did three shows he would feel that it would be such an anti-climax to him for the 160,000 people who didn’t get to see him,” he said.

“The idea of moving to a different venue, it just wouldn’t work because the stuff is custom-made for Croke Park...12 container loads have already left America on route here and these are special lights that are going to be put into the Hogan and the Cusack stands. We have a schedule to start on the 12th of July in Croke Park, that’s how big a build up this is.”

He said he, nor the people working with him, “never got an inkling,” that there would be any problem with licensing for the concerts: earlier this week the council refused permission for two of the five planned gigs.

“I was under the belief that I would get a licence, with some heavy conditions maybe associated with finishing times and the level of stewarding...but through the whole process when we started this here I never, ever got an inkling that this was going to happen,” he said.

Mr Aiken said the cost to Aiken Promotions if all five concerts are cancelled will run to “seven figures” while Brooks would “be out millions”.