THE developers who own Cork Showgrounds intend to be on site after concerts finish next summer, bringing the long-running Live at the Marquee concert series to an end in 2020.
Concert promoter Peter Aiken, who has brought the likes of Brian Wilson, Elton John, Kanye West, and Bob Dylan to the tent on Monahan Road since its first staging in 2005, said he has not been in contact with site owners Glenveagh Properties about plans for the site’s development.
In a statement to The Echo, a spokesperson for the company said: “Next year will be the last year the site will be available for alternative uses before it is used for new homes.”
Up to 1,000 homes are expected to be built on the land to tie in with the expansion of the city into brownfield dockland sites.
As recently as July 2018, Mr Aiken insisted that the future of the concert series was secure in the short term.
However, he told The Echo last year that he was aware the site was prime development land and could be developed at short notice: “Somebody is going to build on it some day. That’s the way things go.”
Mr Aiken also admitted it would be difficult to find another site in Cork on which to operate a concert series each summer. He did not comment on whether Aiken Promotions are actively seeking a new site in Cork.
No acts have yet been announced for the 2020 series but it is understood acts are already booked.
More than 1.1 million tickets have been sold for Live at the Marquee concerts since the music festival first came to Cork 14 years ago.
The former 11.3-acre Ford depot site was on the market for €8.5m after Nama put it up for sale. The site had been previously earmarked for a hotel and office complex when it was owned by Howard Holdings — who bought it for €35m — and the developers have planning permission for a high-density development which is valid until the end of 2019.
It was sold to Glenveagh Properties for €15m.
Former Lord Mayor Des Cahill has said City Hall will do everything in its power to help Aiken Promotions find a new venue to stage a concert series post-2020.
Curraheen, where the Cork Summer Show takes place, and a 30-acre site in Glanmire have been speculated on as possible replacement sites, but no clear indication has come from Aiken Promotions that they intend to move the famous tent to another venue.
Mr Cahill said he is hopeful that the development of the former Showground site for housing will not mean the end of the long-running concert series in Cork.
“This has been a ship coming down the river for a few years now,” he said.
“We knew that the best-placed scenario is that next year would be the last year. It’s good news, in one way, that the concerts will be there for another year, which means the concert promoters have two years to find another site.
“The indication from Glenveagh to start work, we welcome massively. It’s just unfortunate we don’t have another venue for the concerts.
“There is definitely a big demand for concerts and the festival type is more significant than the static venue one-off gig. People crave a festival-type atmosphere. I’m sure landowners would be equally happy with providing a site if their land is appropriate.”