Munster SHC attendances continue to fall

By John Fogarty

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

The Munster senior hurling championship is caught in a downward spiral
after recording a drop in attendances for the fourth consecutive
season.

An average crowd of 23,455 attended each game last season compared to
24,046 in 2010 — a drop of almost 3%, and down almost 20% from 2008.

The provincial football championship suffered a more significant drop
of over 18%, the average attendance falling for the second successive
year from 15,697 in 2010 to 12,808 last year. Part of the reason for
that was the lack of a Cork-Kerry replay as there was in their 2010
semi-final, while the attractiveness of the Limerick-Kerry semi-final
for the home county in the Gaelic Grounds was offset by the absence of
the injured John Galvin.

However, there were few mitigating circumstances to explain the
decline in popularity of the Munster SHC last year unlike 2010 when
Limerick’s strike and the Bank Holiday Monday semi-final between Clare
and Waterford affected figures.

Three of the nine games played across both codes in 2011 broke the
20,000 crowd number.

In his 2012 report, Munster CEO Pat Fitzgerald questions whether four
stadia in the province boasting capacities of higher than that figure
(more than double, in fact) are required.

“The question might rightly be asked if those four major stadia are
needed today with transport having progressed to give access to all
parts of the province within a reasonable timeframe.”

However, he underlined the value of financially supporting the pending
redevelopment of Páirc Uí Chaoimh, but stated the finalised capacity
shouldn’t be inflated. “The question might be posed again do we need
Páirc Uí Chaoimh. I contend that it is important that Cork, the second
city in our State, has a GAA Stadium which offers our patrons safety
and comfort and sends out a signal that our Association is vibrant in
the City by the Lee.

“Financially this must not interfere with our other commitments toward
games development and promotion.

“However, in infrastructural terms we must recognise that with limited
resources, it must be our priority to support Cork in a reasonable way
financially to develop a stadium which gives safety and comfort the
priority it requires.

“This does not mean that a stadium facilitating huge attendances is
required, no a stadium with the most up-to-date patron and event
management facilities will send out the positive message required.”

Fitzgerald warned Páirc Uí Chaoimh has to be prioritised over Semple
Stadium as it has already received funding support and resources are
limited.