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Museum upgrade for GAA’s Croke Park in €71m redevelopment

The Gaelic Athletic Assocation (GAA) is set to expand its facilities and upgrade its museum at Croke Park, Dublin in €71 million redevelopment plans.

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The GAA stadium is the home of Gaelic games and one of the largest stadiums in Europe with a capacity for over 82,000 fans. The redevelopment is set to cost €71 million overall and so far the European Investment Bank (EIB) has approved in principle a loan of around €35 million. Legal negotiations are still in progress.

“The expected EIB support will enable the GAA to strengthen business and sporting activity at Croke Park and increase economic opportunities in north Dublin in the context of the GAA’s wide and influential role in Irish society and culture,” said a spokesman for the EIB, talking to the Irish Independent.

The stadium has suffered a loss of revenue in the region of €17 million following another season disrupted by the pandemic. It remains optimistic that the All-Ireland Championship will go ahead this year.

Exploring Irish culture and heritage

The GAA Museum explores the story of Gaelic games from antiquity to the present day. It not only holds the archives and artefacts of the Gaelic Athletic Association but looks at how the GAA contributes to Ireland’s cultural, social and sporting heritage. A current exhibition is entitled Remember & Honour: Remembering Bloody Sunday, exploring what the museum calls “the darkest day in GAA history.”

During the pandemic the museum has turned digital, sharing stories and insights virtually while its doors were closed.

Museums becoming integral to sports stadiums

Stadiums are starting to put more focus on museums as part of the visitor experience. They are also increasing hospitality options, with sporting venues adding hotels and wider F&B offerings to the mix. 

Tottenham Hotspur FC recently opened its new stadium in London, featuring an interactive museum alongside bars and restaurants. Aston Villa FC are planning their own regeneration to include a hotel, museum and superstore while in Scotland, Celtic FC announced last July that it was moving forward with plans to add a museum, hotel, and shop at Parkhead in Glasgow.

Meanwhile last December the All Blacks Experience opened in Auckland, celebrating New Zealand rugby. The attraction is a joint venture between Ngāi Tahu Tourism and New Zealand Rugby.

As so much sport is now streamed directly into homes, stadiums are making smart moves to expand their offering. Sport is no longer just about watching a match and grabbing a hotdog – the new super-stadiums are becoming destination venues in their own right as they stretch and enhance the visitor experience.

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