RUGBY was one of the first sports in the country to sell naming rights on their grounds.
Lansdowne Road became the Aviva Stadium and closer to home Musgrave Park was re-branded to Irish Independent Park.
Now Páirc Uí Chaoimh is set to follow suit to help pay some of the massive €30m plus debt incurred in the redevelopment of Cork’s GAA headquarters with a final bill of €96m.
The modern stadium is poised to become the first major GAA ground in Munster to undergo a name change and bring in much-needed cash.
Part of the plan is also to finally sell off land owned by the county board in Kilbarry on the northside of the city, home of Delanys, a one-time senior hurling club. The board have been sitting on this property for an age now, 50 years and more, and it’s suggested a sale could bank €10m.
These form part of an ambitious target of raising €20m in revenue over the next five years announced by the board.
It will come under a new group called One Cork, which is an amalgamation of the county board, the Pairc Ui Chaoimh Stadium Board and Cairde Chorcai as well as clubs and supporters of Cork GAA.
Cairde Chorcai was set up in 2018 under the chairmanship of Ted Owens to support county teams to succeed at the highest levels.
The money will also be raised through the county board and stadia sponsorship, concerts and stadium rental and advertising.
And it will be used to invest heavily in clubs across the county and in a better-resourced county structure.
“The ambition of One Cork is to make Cork GAA one of the most successful sporting organisations in the country, both on and off the pitch.
“By investing properly in clubs, schools and county structures, One Cork will lay the groundwork for future success at every level from Rebel Óg to inter-county.
“The plan will build upon a series of strategies in key areas, namely sponsorship, commercial opportunities at Páirc Uí Chaoimh, ticket sales and advertising.
“A group of dedicated Cork GAA supporters with vast commercial experience has been working on the commercial strategy for One Cork for a number of months.
“Their stated goal is to introduce a commercial engine that will deliver the required return to drive a vision and ambition for Cork GAA,” the statement said.
The One Cork steering group is chaired by county board CEO/Sec Kevin O’Donovan and includes Ted Owens as vice-chair with a mixture of successful businessmen and well-connected former hurlers and footballrs. Michael O’Flynn, Jim Woulfe, Kieran Calnan, Tracey Kennedy, Marc Sheehan, Diarmuid Gowen, John Mullins, Tomás Mulcahy, Conor McCarthy, Seán O’Brien and Sinéad O’Keeffe complete the group.
“One Cork is looking to activate a number of new opportunities that will realise the true potential of a world class stadium like Páirc Uí Chaoimh.
“This includes the naming rights for elements of “the Páirc”, its development as a national venue for events and its appeal as a year-round destination.
“One Cork will also look at using its existing real estate for new advertising opportunities, using a model that has worked extremely well for other sports.
“One Cork will deepen links with the clubs and their communities. The goal is to ensure that every player, from the five-year-old starting out to the inter-county star, will see the benefits of the programme.
“This has already begun with the Rebels’ Bounty, a revamped draw format that will see clubs directly benefit from improved ticket sales.”
GAA President John Horan wished Cork well. “The project is ambitious, innovative and has the potential, if fully supported by the wider Cork GAA family, to harness the huge goodwill that exists towards our games in the biggest county with the largest number of clubs in the GAA,” he said.
County chairperson Tracey Kennedy is optimistic about the future. “By embracing this vision of what Cork GAA should be, every member of every club will be on a firmer footing, both in terms of finance and structure,” she said.
“One Cork realises a long-held ambition to drive Cork GAA forward united, as befits the largest county in Ireland,” she said.