Over the last week Croke Park has turned into a modern day circus with 400.000 fans wondering if they’ll get to see Garth Brooks in a few weeks time. And now it transpires they won’t, Brooks has canceled all five concerts.
The whole debacle started when Peter Aiken, owner of Aiken Promotions, decided to change three concert dates into five. The reason behind this decision was obvious: if three 80.000 concerts sell out in just a few minutes, add a few more.
But Aiken hadn’t considered that the locals living in the shadow of Croke Park may have a say in the matter. After all the agreement between Croke Park and Dublin City Council (DCC) is very clear, three extra events a year, outside of the normal GAA activities are allowed, not more.
This decision was reached after the 2004 renovation of the historical venue to protect the residence from too much anti social behaviour and littering. And also to ensure that property values wouldn’t plummet too much in the wake of noise pollution, public urination and rowdy crowds.
So when the GAA allowed Aiken Promotions to offer Garth Brooks five consecutive concerts it wasn’t really a surprise that some residence groups approached DCC, Croke Park and Aiken vetoing this decision. After all the three extra events for 2014 have already been taken up with the three One Direction concerts in May.
Of course there is the licensing issue that has added fuel to the fire. For antiquated reasons it seems impossible for DCC to issue licenses ahead (S.I. No. 154/2001 of the Planning and Development (Licensing of Outdoor Events) Regulations) of time leaving promoters no other choice but to plan and hope that the license will be granted, which it normally is. However this cavalier attitude towards regulations from both sides was bound to lead to a big issue eventually.
So when DCC only approved three concerts instead of five, already allowing three extra dates, all hell broke loose. Aiken blamed the locals for being small-minded and the GAA for not having the license in place. The GAA pointed the finger at DCC and the residents groups and Garth Brooks decided that the Irish in general didn’t like him and decide to sulk saying “five or none at all”.
In a last effort bid to change his mind, Aiken even flew out to meet up with Garth Brooks and woe him into going ahead with the three licenced concerts. DCC is standing strong saying that they won’t budge on the matter even though some locals in Ballybough are demonstrating to allow all five concerts to go ahead. And like the DCC he is true to his word, none at all it is.
Of course some politicians have become involved, in particular Lord Mayor Christy Burke who wants the concerts to go ahead. On the contra side there is a very vocal John Lyons of the People Before Profit Alliance who has asked his fellow councillors to get “some perspective”.
“We can’t be bullied in any way, shape, or form,” he told the chamber, “and by Garth Brooks? Seriously?”
Now 400.000 fans are going to be disappointed and everyone is left wondering why Brooks won’t just give the originally planned three concerts. Of course no one is happy with the loss of €50 Million but maybe those involved with have learned this very expensive lesson.
Now the issue is: how to prevent such a debacle to happen again. The regulations of applying for permits has to be streamlined and awarded ahead of time. and talks between promoters, DCC and locals have to be taken seriously.