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A Stadium Partnership (June 2009)

Article for Shamrock Rovers match day programme against Bohemians June 2009

Tonight we welcome Bohemians on their first visit to the Tallaght Stadium.  It is a work in progress here and we hope on their next visit, later in the season, there will be another stand visible on the far side of the ground as you look from your seat tonight.  The aim will be to accommodate a significant increase in spectators by that game with the capacity reaching towards 7,000.  The history of the Tallaght Stadium project is a long one and the result is that Shamrock Rovers are now playing as anchor tenant in this municipal stadium owned by South Dublin County Council (SDCC).

This type of stadium ownership is by no means unique and there are a number of other clubs in Ireland with this structure unlike the privately owned stadium model such as Dalymount Park.  Of course the Bohemian FC situation with Dalymount Park is a highly complicated one after a High Court ruling in November last year noted that Bohs hold a section of the ground in trust for a developer, Albion Enterprises Limited.  This ruling puts in jeopardy another agreement Bohs made to sell their stadium to another developer.   Danniger Ltd had made an agreement with Bohemians to buy Dalymount Park and move the club to a new Stadium near Castleknock.  Bohemians have signalled their intent to take the matter to the Supreme Court.  Like Shamrock Rovers, Bohemians is a members club and their members must await a court date, possibly two years in the future, before they know whether their plans to move to North County Dublin will come to fruition.  As Rovers fans know, the courts move at their own pace so this matter will take a long time to resolve.

For Rovers, the process of gaining and losing ownership of this 12 acre site began in 1997.  Then SDCC granted a lease to Rovers to build a stadium on the site that you see today.  After a ruling by An Bord Pleanála, construction began in 2000.  However, after investing a large amount of money including Sports Capital Grants, Sponsorship including some from Umbro Ireland and the club’s own funds, construction ceased in late 2001.  Planning permission lapsed in 2004 and SDCC served forfeiture notices on the lease on the stadium from the previous Shamrock Rovers owners.  The site, which can be viewed from SDCC’s offices, with its unfinished stadium had become an eyesore on the emerging modern landscape of Tallaght.  SDCC and the Department of Sport, under the ministership of now Ceann Comhairle John O’Donoghue, must be congratulated for their willingness to put measures in place to complete the stadium.  SDCC recognised what Rovers, who were already firmly embedded in the community with under age teams and scholarship systems, would further bring to Tallaght.  They stood firm, with Rovers and support from the FAI, in defeating the High Court Judicial Review taken out by the GAA.

In Ireland, Derry City FC, Waterford United & Sporting Fingal all play their home games in facilities provided by their local authorities.  Waterford Corporation funded the expansion of the RSC grounds bringing the seated capacity from 1750 up to in excess of 3000.  Meanwhile Sporting Fingal currently play in a venue most Rovers fans try to forget, Morton Stadium.  Fingal County Council has begun discussions about developing new facilities which Sporting Fingal would have access to.  Cork City are anchor tenants in Turners Cross which is owned by the Munster FA who have increased the capacity to 7500 in one of the best stadia in the country.  However, at the end of last month Drogheda United’s plans for a privately developed stadium at Bryanstown, County Meath, were abandoned after the objections by the National Road Authority to the development were upheld by An Bord Pleanála.  Long term development plans have now been replaced by short term ones for United Park which is now owned by the FAI.

The municipal stadium model is one that is used extensively in Italy in conjunction with ground sharing for even the biggest clubs.  In Milan, the San Siro stadium, owned by the Comune di Milano, is home to Internazionale one week and then Milan the next.  Originally Milan’s home ground, Inter have played there since 1947.  The Stadio Olimpico in Rome is owned by the Municipality of Rome home to the tifosi of Roma and Lazio on alternate weekends.   The venue for last month’s game between Italy and Ireland was the municipal stadium in Bari.  Similar to Rome and Bari, the Stadio delle Alpi in Turin, was developed for the 1990 World Cup by the local council.  All three stadia have running tracks around the pitch which push the fans further away from the action.  In the case of Bari and Turin, the running tracks were rarely used with poor sightlines for football spectators.  The delle Alpi was not the most popular venue with Torino or Juventus fans and so the stadium was recently demolished and a new stadium for Juventus is under construction in Turin on the site.  Meanwhile, Juventus have returned temporarily, and Torino permanently, as tenants of Turin Council in the Stadio Comunale (where both teams played until 1990) which was built for the 1934 World Cup and upgraded for the recent Winter Olympics now rebranded as the Stadio Olimpico di Torino.

The great Maracana stadium is also a municipal stadium.  This mecca of world football is owned by the Rio de Janeiro state government.  Rio club’s like Botafogo, Flamengo and Fluminense have small home grounds and hence tend to play most home games in the Maracana Stadium.  This was another stadium that was developed for a World Cup.  For the 1950 World Cup final, the stadium held nearly 200,000.  This was four times greater in capacity than the second biggest stadium at the time, Hampden Park.  The stadium will host the 2014 World Cup final and its current capacity is a mere 95,000 seats and so is slightly bigger than Tallaght!

The stadium in Tallaght was used last month for the first time for international football.  The Irish under 17 team played a friendly game in Tallaght Stadium when they beat Poland 4-2.  SDCC were making the venue available for an FAI international fixture for the first and no doubt not the last time.  The FAI Umbro Intermediate Cup Final took place last week here in the Stadium with Crumlin United beating Bluebell United in an exciting 3-2 encounter.  The FAI has been a firm supporter of the venue and aim to play a number of their fixtures here affording South Dublin County Council the opportunity of showcasing their venue to the wider football community.  However tonight it is the citizens of South County Dublin, and the many other areas that Rovers draw their fans from, that will be cheering on their Tallaght based team against our visitors from across the Liffey in Dublin City Council territory.

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  1. January 2, 2011 at 17:21

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