‘Unanswered Prayers’ for Garth fans as singer issues “all or nothing” ultimatum

July 7, 2014

Thousands of Garth Brooks fans across the country will know later today (Monday) if the country singer’s planned five concerts in Croke Park are to go ahead later this month.

The bitter disappointment of the legions of fans was vented on social media after Dublin City Council’s (DCC) decision on Thursday to grant permission for just three of the five shows prompted Brooks to declare that “it was five shows or none at all”.

“To choose which shows to do and which shows not to do, would be like asking to choose one child over another,” he said.

DCC took the decision to only grant licences for the concerts on 25th, 26th and 27th July after residents near the GAA stadium had threatened legal action after the initial two concerts were increased to five.  The council revealed that 373 submissions had been received from residents, residents’ groups and local businesses and, in a statement on Thursday, said it would not be “appropriate” to grant five consecutive nights of concerts.

They said the scale of the concerts was “unprecedented” and would lead to “an unacceptable level of disruption” for residents and businesses near Croke Park and that granting all five concerts, in addition to the three held by One Direction in May, would have doubled the previous maximum number of concerts held at the stadium per year.

Around 400,000 fans have booked tickets to witness the country music icon mark his return to the Irish stage at Croke Park after a 17-year absence.  Thousands of die-hard fans had braved the winter weather to camp out at ticket venues all over the country when the tickets went on sale at the end of January. Demand was so high for the concerts on Friday 25th and Saturday 26th July that a third date was announced soon after tickets went on sale.  As Garth Brooks mania swept the country, fourth and fifth dates were also added.

Back in January, The Examiner reported on the hundreds of south Armagh fans who staged two day sit-outs at local ticketmaster venues in Newry and Castleblayney to ensure they got their hands on tickets for the much anticipated comeback concerts. At the time of going to press this week, those same fans, along with many more thousands around the country were still in the dark as to whether they should seek a refund or cancel travel plans, as official discussions continued over the weekend.

Speaking following the council announcement last Thursday, Peter Aiken, from Aiken Promotions, the company organising the concerts said he was hopeful but not optimistic that all five would go ahead and advised ticket holders to “hold fire” on seeking refunds or cancelling plans.

The promoter said he understood and supported Garth Brooks in his view that he could not come and do three shows and not do the other two. He also dismissed the idea that the concerts could be held at a different venue, as there is not enough time for a licence application. “It’s Croke Park or nowhere” said Mr Aiken adding that he had never before heard of permission being denied to “any other major show in Dublin ever”.

Dublin City councillor Gary Gannon, who is from the Croke Park area, also revealed that there was a “silent majority” of residents who are not against the Garth Brooks concerts but also many who feel “disrespected by the GAA”.

Mr Gannon said he felt residents may let the concerts go ahead if an agreement was struck between the GAA and Croke Park area residents regarding future concerts as per the recommendation of Kieran Mulvey, from the Labour Relations Commission.  Mr Mulvey has suggested that in “no circumstances” should four or five consecutive concerts be organised again and that a half million euro “legacy fund” be set up for the area.

Mr Gannon said that “common sense” should allow the concerts to go ahead and stressed their importance for the local and national economy.

Meanwhile the GAA said they were assessing the situation and were set to make a public announcement today (Monday).