The GAA are nothing if not flexible (when it suits them) and it was no surprise to me when it was announced, on the eve of Sunday’s rugby international in Rome, that Croker would be made available for a potential ‘home’ Heineken Cup semi-final between Munster and Leinster or Harlequins in May if need be.
Only the previous week stadium manager Peter McKenna has conceded that alternative income streams would have to be explored to make the association’s HQ pay its way. With consumer spending at a 25-year low, empty seats could well be a common sight around the Jones’s Road stadium for some time to come.
The IRFU and FAI are keeping ticket prices high (up to €90 for the recent France game), probably because the projections for the new 50,000-seater Lansdowne Road – or the Aviva Stadium to give it its proper €45m name – will have been based on a certain charge per head.
As long as demand exceeds supply they’ll get away with it, and the scale of the Ballsbridge development looks spot-on given the prevailing economic climate. How the GAA will respond to falling average attendances, apart from when the Dublin footballers are in action, will be interesting. The number-crunchers will have to be clever with their double-headers, and they can discount a lot of Cork euros here and now.