‘Ireland... unbelievable,’ Garth Brooks says amid huge ticket demand for five gigs

Frustration for residents as three additional dates added over course of morning

Garth Brooks superfans waited all day outside Croke Park to meet their hero. Video: Enda O'Dowd

 

Country singer Garth Brooks has expressed his delight at ticket demand for his five nights at Croke Park next September.

The singer tweeted early in the morning his time: “IRELAND!!!!! Just waking up to the news!!!! Unbelievable !!!!! All my love to you!!! love, g.”

Though the stadium had planning permission for five Brooks concerts, the man himself said it would be “impossible” to sell that many tickets. Fortunately for himself and promoter Peter Aiken, he was wrong.

Demand for the first two concerts on Friday, September 9th and Saturday September 10th outstripped supply very quickly and a third date on Sunday September 11th was added. Shortly after 10am Brooks confirmed via social media that there would be also be concerts at the Dublin venue on Friday, September 16th and Saturday September 17th.

At 8.10am more than 280,000 people were waiting to buy tickets for the original gigs on Friday, September 9th and Saturday, September 10th. As of 10.10pm some 200,000 tickets had been sold and at 11am over 100,000 were still queuing online to buy. Each concert would accommodate some 80,000 people.

Planning permission has been given for five in total but many local residents and their representative groups have opposed the number of concerts.

As the additional concerts were announced, though, and the tickets continued to sell in huge numbers the view seemed to be that that there was no legal route for them to prevent the events happening.

The country singer’s previous five concerts at the venue in 2014 had been cancelled because of objections from locals and a refusal by Dublin City Council to grant planning permission for the events.

This time planning was granted and asked on RTÉ Radio 1’s Claire Byrne Show about local views on the prospect of these concerts, along with two by Ed Sheerin scheduled for April at the venue, all going ahead this, PRO for the Clonliffe and Croke Park Area Residents Association Colm Stephens said: “Well we say what we have said all along, that we find this is unacceptable.

“The basis for our reasoning is that this was investigated a long time ago by An Bord Pleanála and they imposed a cap on the number of concerts and the number of what are called ‘special events’ in the stadium. That cap was set to three per annum.

“Three in any calendar year, we are prepared to accept and we feel that it is a reasonable compromise. Nothing has really changed in the circumstances. We think this cap should be followed.”

However, he said that “when the legislation was brought in on special events there is no legal mechanism for us to take any further action.

“We made our submissions. The majority of the submissions about these concerts objected about the number of concerts above three and the City Council seems to have ignored our submissions. There is a two to one majority against the concerts but they have gone with the minority.

“There is no legal course of action we can now follow. The City Council make a decision that cannot be challenged in any way. I don’t know how people will put it with it. Many people will try to move out of the area when Garth Brooks is there and abandon their houses. It will be a serious consideration for people. Unfortunately it will be in school term time (but) I am absolutely considering it.

“We may have to get offside to make room for Garth Brooks to make millions on the backs of the Irish people.”

Played down

Speaking at a press conference on Monday, Brooks had played down the possibility of being able to sell five concerts out this time around.

Referring to the cancelled dates he said he hoped there would be a “blessing in that curse and now hopefully we have a chance to play Ireland”.

When asked would he like to do five shows again, he responded: “I’d like to, but I’d also like to be six foot five and have abs.

“You had 400,000 tickets in one city and one show. There’s no way we are going to do those numbers again. Would I like it? Yes. Is it going to happen? I think it would be impossible.”

Promoter Peter Aiken said he was “relieved and delighted” by the response to the concerts going on sale.

“He is bigger than he was the last time. There were 100,000 people logged on to Ticketmaster before the concerts went on sale.

“That’s unheard of, even in the United States. You would normally expect 30,000 to 40,000 people in the queue for a big outdoor show.”

Ticketmaster was managing the system tp prevent crash over the course of Thursday morning and was letting people in in tranches.

Mr Aiken added that he should know in the afternoon how the sales had gone for the five shows.