Cork GAA welcomes approval for €70 million upgrade of Páirc Uí Chaoimh

Hopes high that building work will start in February and create some 400 jobs

The Cork County Board of the GAA has expressed its satisfaction at the decision by An Bord Pleanála to approve the €70 million redevelopment of Páirc Uí Chaoimh and said it hopes to begin work as early as February.

An Bord Pleanála granted approval for the redevelopment of the 38-year-old stadium following the completion of an appeals process which saw a small number of residents raise their concerns about the plan at an oral hearing last September.

The decision paves the way for the redevelopment, which will see capacity at the ground increase from 40,000 to 45,000 with both stands being reconstructed and a centre of excellence being developed adjacent to the stadium.

Proper home

The Cork County Board said it was “delighted” with the decision. “The redevelopment of Páirc Uí Chaoimh will provide top-class facilities and meet present day expectations of players and spectators. It will ensure that Cork has a proper home to showcase Gaelic games and an infrastructure to develop young players into the future.


“Today’s decision is also a very important moment for Cork as it allows us to progress a project that holds out so many economic, recreational and community positives for the city and county,” said the county board in its statement.

“This is a €70 million project that will create some 400 direct and indirect construction jobs. The new development will also address a deficit in Cork’s business and tourism infrastructure and create an ongoing economic dividend for Cork.”

Cork County Board said it hopes to start construction work next February after consultation with locals to ensure the facility can be “a resource for the local community”.

During the oral hearing, the GAA argued the refurbishment of Páirc Uí Chaoimh was essential as its capacity has been reduced because of health and safety considerations from its original capacity of 50,000 when it first opened in 1976 to its current level of 40,000.

Reducing capacity to below 40,000 would have made it unsuitable for major games and failing to refurbish the grounds would have led to further reductions in capacity, making it no longer viable as an inter-county ground.

Demolishing stand

The refurbishment will involve demolishing the existing covered south stand and its replacement with a new three-tier covered south stand incorporating dressing rooms, food and drink facilities, gymnasium, toilets, meeting rooms, office, museum and spectator concourses.

The uncovered stand will also be redeveloped, involving the removal of the lowest one-third of the stand and the erection of a roof while both terraces will also be altered and the existing tunnels will be removed and replaced with vomitoriums at a higher level.

The new South Stand will have a capacity of 13,000, up from its current level of 9,435; the North Stand will have a capacity of 8,000, down from 10,030; while the two terraces will each accommodate 12,000.

The project will also involve the development of a a centre of excellence incorporating a 155x95 metre all-weather floodlit playing pitch parallel to the existing covered stand on the south side.

The project has not been without controversy, with Cork City councillors voting by 17 to 10 to enter into discussions with the GAA to sell the sporting body some 6.8 acres of land which it had compulsorily purchased from the Munster Agricultural Society.

Then Cork city manager Joe Gavin had recommended the council would sell just over two acres to the GAA to allow it upgrade the stadium.

Barry Roche

Barry Roche

Barry Roche is Southern Correspondent of The Irish Times