Monday, September 05, 2022

By Gráinne Ní Aodha, PA

Organisers have said the five Garth Brooks concerts in Dublin will be an “extravaganza” that could be its biggest ever music event, and have warned those attending to prepare their journey to and from Croke Park.

Spokespeople for the promoter said that the stage was designed specifically for the concerts and is being assembled by specialists from the US.

“It is going to be extravaganza,” Aiken Promotions event controller Jim Clarke said on Monday.

“This equipment, a lot of it has been flown directly to Ireland from America. It is a one-off, it’s not part of the established tour. So everything we’re doing here we’re doing for the first time.”

The 60-year-old US country music star is due to play five concerts at Croke Park over the course of 10 days, with the first starting this Friday.

There is particular interest in the event as Brooks’ five concerts in 2014 were cancelled following a licensing dispute with locals around the venue and the local authorities.

Dublin City Council said at the time that it would only grant licences for three of the concerts at the venue, however the singer refused to perform unless all five went ahead.

In November 2021, after huge demand for two Garth Brooks gigs at Croke Park, a further three dates were added: September 11th, 16th and 17th.

At a media briefing held on Monday ahead of the concerts, Peter McKenna of Croke Park thanked the residents for their support, saying it has been “very very positive this time around” compared to eight years ago when the concerts were “fought off”.

Around 400,000 people are expected to attend the gigs over the five dates, with all counties represented and at least 5 per cent of ticketholders coming from outside Ireland.

“Croke Park normally for a concert would attract 40-50 per cent of its patrons from the greater Dublin area. In this case it’s around 15 per cent,” Mr Clarke said.

“Every county is represented, 30 countries around the world are represented: 5 per cent of people coming to these concerts are coming into Ireland. So that’s a bonus not just for Garth Brooks and Dublin, but for Ireland as a whole.”

Due to the large numbers of attendees, organisers are warning people to plan their journey to and from Croke Park, as there is only one car park close to the venue that holds 400 cars, and traffic restrictions will be in place near the venue.

People aged under 14 will not be allowed onto the standing/pitch area, and bags must be less than an A4 size and will be searched on the way into the venue.

Attendees are also asked to double-check the date on their tickets and are reminded that the show starts at 7.30pm, with gates open from 5pm.

Superintendent Martin Mooney said that there would be a “soft cordon” in place around the venue from 10.30am on the morning of each concert, where residents and businesses in the area will be accommodated, and from 3pm a hard cordon will be in place.

“That basically is the roads around the environs of Croke Park will be in lockdown,” he said, with residents being allocated three passes each ahead of the concerns to gain access to the areas around Croke Park.

From 10.15pm onwards, until around an hour after the concert ends, no access will be allowed “whatsoever” within the cordon to allow for people to leave the concert, Mr Mooney added.

“I’d ask concert goers to be mindful of the residents, to be respectful as well, too,” he said.

“There will be zero tolerance for any person drinking on the streets, in particular urinating on the streets, littering, antisocial behaviour and illegal parking as well.”

Further details are available on a section of the Transport for Ireland website to help people plan their journeys.

Aiken Promotions event controller Eamon O’Boyle said that due to the width of Croke Park being almost as wide as a soccer pitch is long, the stage was designed with this in mind and is expected to be “pretty spectacular”.

Commenting on the boon it would be for the Irish economy, Mr O’Boyle said that “at it’s most basic, it’s five All Ireland finals coming together”.

Organisers would not be drawn on when Brooks may arrive in the country ahead of Friday’s gig.

Mr Clarke said that this was expected to be one of the biggest cultural performances in Ireland.

He added: “Garth Brooks has become something of an icon in his own right in Ireland.

“400,000 people over five days and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. I think he could have sold so many more tickets, such is his popularity across the country.

“Everybody wants a ticket. That’s the nature of it. This is probably the biggest cultural event in Ireland in the history of music. So clearly people want tickets and that demand has not diminished as the days approach.”

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