GAA invest in growing the grass roots after buying Dublin farm

Association pay around €700k for 50 acres to grow grass for pitches

Pitch removal work at Croke Park in 2011. Photograph:  Lorraine O’Sullivan/Inpho

Pitch removal work at Croke Park in 2011. Photograph: Lorraine O’Sullivan/Inpho

 

The GAA has acquired a farm in north county Dublin to grow grass for pitch replacement. Initially it will supply the association’s needs but a business plan will be developed to explore the potential for export. On about 50 acres, the property cost in the region of €700,000 and will start producing the turf next year.

Croke Park Stadium director Peter McKenna spoke about the project at Wednesday’s launch of the stadium’s annual financial report.

Concerts at the GAA’s headquarters require a new surface to be laid afterwards as covering the pitch for even a couple of days kills the grass. At present a farm in Lincolnshire supplies rolls of turf for relaying pitch surfaces but having an operation close at hand would reduce both costs and risks.

Last year, McKenna spoke about the threat posed by Brexit to the current arrangement, as fears of a 20 per cent surcharge on agricultural products could add roughly €100,000 to the cost of a concert.

On Wednesday he expanded on the GAA’s plans, saying that the most obvious immediate beneficiary would be Croke Park but that they would also benefit the association as a whole.

“That’s the idea but we also have pitch replacement needed in Cork when they run concerts, and other surfaces across the country so it is very useful for us to have our own facility to do that.

“The pitches in Abbotstown will be due a replacement on a lot more regular basis as well so if we have a team of expertise here with Stuart [Wilson, pitch manager] and the fellas here, building that across a triangular event from Abbotstown, the pitch farm and Croke Park, we will build a mass of expertise.

“There is no reason when it comes to the time, that we won’t be able to export the pitches. What we have here, climatically is a far better set-up than a lot of Europe, where it is frosty and frozen. But that is down the line.”

He said that in the meantime the opportunity to reduce pitch replacement costs would be very beneficial.

“Yes, indeed. It’s not inexpensive to take pitches in. It’s a large part of the cost of staging a concert so if we can reduce that cost it just makes us more attractive to concert promoters.

“One of the difficulties we have being on an island is that when a concert comes across they lose a day on the way in and they lose a day on the way out and they don’t have that same issue when they’re travelling in Europe so anything we can do to make us more cost-effective, so much the better.”

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