Galway could be in line for a €20 million sporting boost after Galway County Board passed a motion to make selected GAA grounds available to the International Rugby Board (IRB) as part of a bid for the 2023 Rugby World Cup.
The motion, proposed by Salthill-Knocknacarra GAA club, was passed unanimously by 250 delegates at Monday night’s County Board Convention, which took place at the Claregalway Hotel on Monday night.
The proposal will now go forward to the GAA’s Annual Congress in April, where representatives from all counties will vote on the motion.
GAA stadia, including Pearse Stadium, would be open to use by the IRB if the motion were passed.
There is precedent for the move after the GAA opened Croke Park for use by the FAI and the IRFU for soccer and rugby between 2007 and 2010 while Lansdowne Road was being redeveloped.
Other GAA stadia that would be likely to be used should the motion be passed are Páirc Uí Chaoimh in Cork, Semple Stadium in Thurles and the Gaelic Grounds in Limerick.
Chairman of Salthill-Knocknacarra, David Burke, welcomed Galway County Board’s adoption of his club’s motion, saying it is “the right move for GAA in Galway and nationally and an opportunity to show again that the GAA is a very progressive organisation”.
“Having the Rugby World Cup in Galway could bring as much as €20 million to the local economy and nationally. It could be worth up to €500 million to Ireland and provide a massive boost to our economy. The GAA brand would receive worldwide coverage and our image would be significantly boosted,” he added.
Mr Burke said he had spoken to other clubs in Cork, Kerry and Dublin and all were “positively disposed” towards the idea. He said he was hopeful that the motion would be passed at the GAA’s Annual Congress, which take place in April 2013 in Derry.
Galway County Board CEO, John Hynes also welcomed the move and said the motion had the full support of the GAA community in Galway.
Mr Hynes said that the GAA was “mature enough as an organisation to be able to accommodate and facilitate other sports” and said he expected that the motion would receive widespread support at the GAA Annual Congress.
It is expected that work will now begin in the background on formalising a bid and canvassing support amongst other clubs for April’s motion.
Meanwhile, revised plans for floodlighting at Pearse Stadium are due to be submitted by Galway County Board to Galway City Council in early January.
The new planning application will now feature five columns, shorter in length than the four previously proposed, providing a lower level of illumination following local residents’ concerns.
The new plan also contains a revised traffic management plan, allows for floodlights for matches only and permits only 12 floodlit matches per year.
However, the proposals have again met with some opposition from residents in the Rockbarton Road, Rockbarton Green, Rockbarton Court and Revagh Road area, who maintain that the revised traffic management plan is “discredited” and that no other issues have been “addressed in any meaningful way” by the revised plans, which were revealed to residents last month.