Sunday 14 August 2011

GAA accused of turning Croker into ‘adventure sports park’

THE GAA has been accused of trying to turn Croke Park into "an adventure sports park" after the sports organisation submitted plans which would allow visitors to engage in abseiling and ziplining off the roof of the stadium.
Visitors on the new rooftop tour of Croke Park would get the chance to abseil or zipline (which involves the use of an aerial ropeslide) down from the top of the Cusack Stand to the pitch.

However, plans for the Croke Park Rooftop Tour, which were first announced last year, have been put on hold as planning permission for the project, granted by Dublin City Council last April, has been appealed by local residents to Bord Pleanála.

Residents’ groups claim the GAA is trying to turn Croke Park into "an adventure sports park" as abseiling and ziplining are not GAA sports. They also complained that local people will suffer an invasion of privacy as visitors using the rooftop walkway will be able to gaze into their properties.

A Bord Pleanála hearing is due to be held next month, and will decide the fate of the ambitious project by the GAA to create a unique tourist attraction offering visitors a 360-degree panoramic view of Dublin.

According to plans submitted by the GAA, the rooftop tour will open 9am-6pm from April to October and will accommodate one public tour with a maximum of 30 people each day. It will also operate two group bookings in advance per day.

There will be five viewing platforms: two on the Cusack Stand, two on the Hogan Stand and one on the Davin Stand.

Visitors will be accompanied by two guides who will provide a historical briefing at each viewing point.

They must wear a safety harness attached to a fixed line which runs the length of the zig-zag roof walkway, starting from the Hogan Stand to halfway up the Cusack Stand. They will also be given a full safety briefing before the tour that will last approximately three hours.

The GAA said the aim of the rooftop tour was "to further enhance the Croke Park visitor’s experience" and make the stadium a "must-see" attraction.

One of the highlights will be a pitch-viewing cabin with reflective glass walls located in the Hogan Stand which the GAA claims will have a "high-impact" factor.

The GAA said it needed to attract 8,000 visitors each year to make the rooftop walk financially viable — a figure which equates to approximately 10% of the annual number of visitors for the general Croke Park tour.

The GAA originally declined to submit target attendance figures to Dublin City Council on the basis that they could be "criticised in the media for developing a facility which does not achieve targets".

It also expressed concern that visitor numbers in excess of its target figure could breach planning permission.

It is estimated that just 14 visitors per day would opt for the abseiling and ziplining.

Irish Examiner

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