Wednesday 20 June 2007

Thomond Park No More

Thomond Park Is Dead! Long Live The Toyota Arena? Bulmers Park? Etc.

Thomond renaming to trigger red alert - Gerry Thornley, The Irish Times.

A sad day for Munster rugby. Thomond Park is gone. Well, the old ground will be redeveloped, but in a move of most penurious commercialism, the IRFU and the Munster Branch have decided to sell the naming rights to the ground when reopened in November.

Three things annoy me about this needless sacrifice of valued Irish sporting folklore:

(1) There is the obvious betrayal of the tradition of the hallowed stadium. It may well be the same field as before, but it will not be Thomond. It is in "Thomond Park" where the All Blacks were famously defeated, in "Thomond Park" where Chabal was hammered into the turf, in "Thomond Park" where O' Gara put Saracens to the sword all those years ago... For those of you who may say it is only a name... Would you mind then if Croke Park was renamed the Guinness Arena? Thought so.

(2) The IRFU and the Munster Branch were clearly considering selling the naming rights since the redevelopment began. Why not build a new stadium (with a new name) in a designated greenfield site then? Why needlessly obliterate Thomond? Such an alternative greenfield development would cost less, involve less planning permission proceedings, permit a larger capacity stadium and the possibility of proper amenities in the locale. Maybe even improved training facilities and an academy or two... Instead, the gobshites have gone for the worst of both worlds.

(3) Nobody seems to have considered the longevity of the new stadium's feasibility... The French clubs and the Guinness Premiership have shown how petulant their approach to the Heineken Cup can be, and how desperately the competition needs their continued involvement to survive. If they eventually decide to quit (not too unrealistic a possibility you will agree) then Munster rugby's new indulgence would be in dire straits... I hardly expect there to be a 26,000 capacity crowd at every Magners League clash once the stadium reopens. Without the Heineken Cup, the funds lost to this venture would result in an hastening of the exodus of players from the province. Hardly beneficial to club or country.

Honestly, some people.

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