Over recent months I have had ongoing contact with the three main field sports bodies. In my meetings with the IRFU, the FAI and the GAA, I found broad support among them about the need for a second stadium in the Dublin area to complement the existing facilities at Croke Park, which can accommodate 80,000 spectators. There was a consensus that the second stadium should have a capacity of about 50,000.
I was also much encouraged to note that the concept of the new Lansdowne Road stadium, which will be delivered with financial support from the Government, and will be capable of hosting rugby, soccer and Gaelic games was welcomed by all the sports bodies.
The new stadium will meet all the current international standards for rugby and soccer and the pitch area will be of sufficient size to accommodate Gaelic games. The GAA has indicated that it may, in the future, be interested in the use of the stadium for smaller matches for which the large capacity of Croke Park would not be an economic proposition.
Under the current rules of the GAA, Croke Park is not available to host rugby or soccer fixtures. It is expected that this matter will be discussed at the GAA's next Congress in April 2004. The Government recognises that the opening up of Croke Park is a matter for the GAA alone.