ERC chief executive Derek McGrath has said that he can “certainly foresee” the governing body looking at the redeveloped Lansdowne Road Stadium as a possible venue for the Heineken Cup final in the coming years.
Lansdowne Road is currently being transformed into a 50,000 all-seater venue and with construction due to be completed by the end of 2009, the Heineken Cup final of either 2010 or 2011 could very well be staged at the refurbished Dublin 4 ground.
Commenting at the launch of this season’s Heineken Cup in Cardiff, McGrath said: “I certainly foresee looking at that option (of hosting the Heineken Cup final at the new Lansdowne Road).
“We’re going to have world-class facilities in Dublin and we certainly want to match that with a tournament of this calibre. It’s in our interests to take the tournament to as many markets as we can.
“I think it’s an easy one to sell to anybody who is not Irish to come to Dublin to have a game and the Irish public…they love sport. I’m hoping that, in time, we will be having a final in Dublin. It’s on our radar and it’s something we’d like to do. We haven’t pencilled in definite discussions yet.”
The old Lansdowne Road hosted the Heineken Cup final twice – Ulster famously won the final there in 1999, beating Colomiers 21-6 in front of a capacity 49,000-strong crowd, while 28,600 spectators witnessed Toulouse’s 22-17 defeat of their French rivals Perpignan at Lansdowne in 2003.
McGrath also spoke of the possibility of the ERC approaching the GAA about staging a Heineken Cup game at the Association’s home of Croke Park, which played host to Ireland’s Six Nations matches against France and England earlier this year.
“Nothing’s been discussed (regarding Croke Park), but it’s a magnificent stadium and we’d love to have a game there. We also respect the owners of that stadium and the relationships they have with soccer and rugby and they’re specific. We haven’t had any discussions with the GAA.”
The 2007/08 Heineken Cup decider will be held at Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium on Saturday, May 24 (kick-off 5pm). It will be the fifth time that the Welsh capital has hosted European club rugby’s showpiece event and already almost 12,000 tickets have been snapped up before a ball has been kicked.
This season’s tournament begins on Friday week (November 9) with the meeting of Ulster and Gloucester at Ravenhill. The following day will see both Leinster and Munster in pool action against Leicester Tigers (at the RDS) and London Wasps at (the Ricoh Arena) respectively.
Tickets are priced at GBP£20, £35, £45 and £55, with concession prices for juniors at £22, £24 and £32.