Croke Park Stadium Tour
On Saturday the 25th January the Dublin IWA young adult group visited CrokePark for a tour of the famous stadium. 15 guys and girls met up at 12pm, with scarves and hats ‘to beat the band’, in order to stave off the typically wet and dreary January weather! The tour began with a 20 minute video of what happens on a typical big match day in Croker. This was a real eye opener to the enormous amount of work that goes on in the stadium, from the cleaning staff to the Garda operation to the popcorn sellers.
The film encapsulated the excitement of a big match day in Croker and left you with hairs standing on your arms (could have possibly been the cold weather mind!!). From there, we got to visit the underside of the stadium and into the actual dressing rooms that the players use. The dressing rooms were in pristine condition and decorated with all of the 32 county jerseys (even the Kerry and Meath jerseys for some bizarre reason!!!).
From there out on to the pitch itself, we got to appreciate the absolute vastness of the stadium, indeed all 82,300 seats. We learned that during the winter time, artificial ‘lighting rigs’ have to be brought in to aid the grass grow- due to lack of sunshine! Our tour guide pitch side was very enthusiastic about the history of the stadium and told us some interesting facts:
· 1) Croke Park is the 4th largest stadium in Europe and the largest stadium in the world for an amateur sport; impressive!! It is a 3 tier stadium with 7 levels
· 2) In 2013 over 1 million people visited CrokePark
· 3) There are 463 huge lamps dotted around the stadium which allow the night time floodlit games to take place. Next Dublin game v Cork this Saturday the 1st March at 7pm-UP THE DUBS!! See www.tickets.ie for match ticket information
· 4) 2005 saw the GAA suspend their infamous ‘Rule 42’, which allowed rugby and football international games to be hosted in Croke park for the first time
From pitch side, we were then brought up to the highest level in the stadium, level 7. We visited the media area on level 7, where all the journalists and commentators ‘strut’ their stuff on match days. It is so high up you’d need 20/20 vision or possibly a pair of binoculars to see the number on a player’s jersey! Nonetheless, it is an amazing vantage point and similarly to that of the view at pitch level, leaves you in awe at the magnitude of the arena.
The final part of our tour brought us into the museum section of the stadium. The museum has undergone a major facelift in recent times and is now an interactive, illuminating and time consuming experience. Interactive games see visitors test their skills in hurling and football kicks/pucks and ‘speed’ games allow you to test your nerve and reaction times against your fellow visitors. Unfortunately the majority of these games were unsuitable for wheelchair users. However, some of the volunteers acted as ‘guinea pigs’ for some of the games, swinging, jumping and kicking to the amusement of the group!
All in all the tour was a great day out. The stadium tour is an accessible, fun and interesting experience for any group of people. Pre booking for groups is essential- go to www.crokepark.ie for more info.
The IWA young adult group is a group of young adults (18-30) who meet up socially once per month to try out different activities, meet up with old friends and have a have a bit of ‘craic’! If you’d like to find out more, give youth worker Dave Barry a ring on 087 050 6946.