Garth Brooks gigs may get new dates to save Croke Park shows

Application for five gigs held over six days may be fast-tracked

Ballybough resident Charly Reid with her her dog campaigning for five Garth Brooks Concerts in Croke Park. Photograph: Collins

Ballybough resident Charly Reid with her her dog campaigning for five Garth Brooks Concerts in Croke Park. Photograph: Collins

Mon, Jul 7, 2014, 07:58

The process under way over the weekend to try to salvage the Garth Brooks concerts planned for Dublin’s Croke Park is understood to have largely focused on getting the US singer to commit initially to perform on three occasions, and then allow space over the coming days to determine whether further events can be held.

It is understood some of the ideas being mooted include the fast-tracking of a new application to Dublin City Council for two additional concerts to be held at Croke Park, but with minor changes to the dates.

Some sources have suggested that rather than having five consecutive concerts later this month, there could be a gap of a day between two of the events.

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Sinn Féin and other councillors are expected to raise the concerts at a scheduled meeting of the city council today.

Last week the council refused licences for two of the five gigs planned for the stadium in three weeks’ time.

Brooks has said he would perform all five concerts in Croke Park - or none of them.

Lord Mayor of Dublin Christy Burke and chief executive of the Labour Relations Commission Kieran Mulvey were working over the weekend to try to achieve a resolution.

The council has said the licensing decision to reject two of the five concerts “cannot be amended or appealed”.

However, while attempts have been under way to seek to salvage plans for the five concerts, some residents may seek a High Court injunction this week in a bid to prevent the three gigs that have been approved by the council from going ahead.

On the other hand, a group of residents living close to Croke Park held a rally yesterday calling for licences to be given for all five of the concerts.

Some sources said the behind-the-scenes process over the weekend centred on Brooks agreeing to perform the three concerts approved by the local authority, which would provide space for new attempts to be made to secure a licence for two additional dates.

Well-placed sources said this could involve council chief executive Owen Keegan being asked to fast-track new licence applications for two additional concerts “based on new information that has come to light”.

This included a petition signed by about 2,000 local residents calling for the five concerts to go ahead as originally planned.

Sources said council officials could also be asked to take on board concerns that have been raised about the validity of some of the objections submitted originally to the council in relation to the plan for five concerts at Croke Park.

It was reported yesterday that a Garda investigation was under way into allegations that some signatures had been forged on the original concert planning objections.

Any new deal to facilitate the five concerts going ahead could also involve a commitment that there would be no concerts at Croke Park next year and that a limit of three a year would be guaranteed for each year thereafter.

Peter Aiken of Aiken Promotions said on Saturday he “hasn’t given up hope” for the concerts taking place.

“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 Brooks and his representatives.

Mr Aiken told The Business on RTÉ Radio 1 that Brooks had made it clear 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 . . . Twelve container-loads have already left America en 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 July 12th in Croke Park – that’s how big a build-up this is.”