Croke Park: 10-year seats

The GAA has come under fire from angry supporters after announcing that it was raising the cost of 10-year premium seats at Croke Park from €7,600 to €12,000.

The 63% increase in ticket prices was criticised last week by fans at a specially convened meeting in Jury's Hotel at Croke Park.

The 10-year premium stand tickets were first introduced in 2000 at a cost of £6,000 (€7,600) and supporters had expected that due to the recession there would only be a modest increase in the cost of renewing the seats for another 10 years.

The GAA has demanded that the money be paid upfront or in three instalments, which would add €1,200 to the cost of the tickets.

This would consist of an immediate payment of €6,000, followed by €3,000 at the end of 2012 and another €4,200 at the end of 2015.

The total income for the 8,700 premium seats over the 10 years is at least €104m.

A number of speakers at the meeting said the GAA informed them that the cost and terms of renewing the seats was non-negotiable.

The association said that there was a waiting list of 1,500 people if current 10-year ticket holders decided not to renew.

Michael Hickey from Kilkenny, one of the organisers of last Wednesday's meeting, criticised the stance of the GAA.

"There needs to be some consideration for the loyalty that we have given for the last 10 years, particularly since we are all big supporters of the GAA," he said.

"I work in the plant hire business myself. We're at the frontline, the majority of my customers have gone out of business.

"We're all hurting. And wouldn't it be only right that in the worst recession any of us have known some arrangement could be made?"

The group discussed retaining a professional negotiator to interact with Croke Park on the matter.

A further meeting is planned for next Wednesday at 8pm at the same venue.

When contacted, Croke Park stadium director Peter McKenna said it was the first he had heard of any complaints. "If people are unhappy they should give us a call. We are the most friendly face you will meet in business. We have very loyal customers and we want to make it as easy as possible for them," he said.

He said the ticket prices were "tremendous value", compared to other venues like Lansdowne Road. "But we are very conscious that this is not an easy time for many people, so I would be more than happy to meet with any group."

Speakers at the meeting in Jury's pointed out that while the stadium advertises "up to 20" matches for the year, practically no patrons would be in attendance for more than ten of those at the most.

This worked out at approximately €120 per ticket per game.

It was also pointed out that apart from Senior Football and Hurling All Ireland Finals, it was possible to get tickets much cheaper than through the long-term option.