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Taoiseach Officially Opens Aviva Stadium

Taoiseach Officially Opens Aviva Stadium

An Taoiseach Brian Cowen officially opened the new Aviva Stadium on Friday afternoon, with the redeveloped Lansdowne Road ground delivered on time and within budget.

The stadium, which will be the new home for Ireland’s international rugby and soccer teams, is a joint venture by the Irish Rugby Football Union (IRFU) and the Football Association of Ireland (FAI).

Funding of €;191 million was provided by the Government for the project which came in slightly under the budgeted figure of €;410 million.

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Speaking at the official opening, An Taoiseach Brian Cowen said that he believed that the new stadium was a tribute to all involved in the project given the fact that not alone had it come within the budgeted figure, but that it had also been delivered on time in less than three years.

He especially thanked the board of the stadium company, Lansdowne Road Stadium Development Company, which he said epitomised the partnership between the IRFU and FAI in delivering an iconic stadium which he believed everyone in Ireland could and would justifiably be proud.

Planning permission for the new stadium was received in March 2007 with work on site beginning two months later in May with the demolition of the old Lansdowne Road stadium.

From the start of demolition, through to the handing over of the stadium to the IRFU and FAI, the project took slightly less than three years to complete.

The result is a state-of-the-art 50,000 all-seater stadium which, while making a bold architectural statement, does not impact environmentally on the Dublin skyline.

The stadium, which is on four levels on three sides, sweeps down to one level at the northern end in respect to the housing at that end of the ground.

It was designed by Populous (formerly HOK Sport Architecture) who worked in conjunction with Dublin-based Scott Tallon Walker.

Populous, one of the world’s leading sports architecture firms, had previously been involved in projects such as the Sydney Olympic Stadium and Arsenal’s Emirates Stadium in London. Currently they are working on a number of the facilities for the 2012 Olympic Games in London.

Project management for Aviva Stadium was provided by the PM Group working with KMCS, while Sisks were the main contractors. In all, over 90 companies worked on the project.

The first fixtures in the new stadium will see a Connacht/Munster rugby selection take on a Leinster/Ulster selection on Saturday, July 31, followed by an Airtricity League team playing Manchester United on Wednesday, August 4.

The first international match will see Ireland’s soccer team playing former world champions Argentina on Wednesday, August 11. The first rugby international will see Ireland face current world champions South Africa on Saturday, November 6.

Speaking at the opening, the Taoiseach said he believed that the new stadium would be of major economic benefit not alone to the city of Dublin but to the country as a whole.

“Sports tourism has become a major source of revenue worldwide. The IRFU/FAI have estimated that a minimum of five soccer and five rugby internationals a year could be worth upwards of €;250 million to the economy,” he said.

“When you factor in international events such as the Europa League final in 2011 and a Heineken Cup final in the not too distant future the potential is huge.

“I believe the stadium has also begun to attract international conference business – and that is before it is even open.”

Speaking on behalf of the stadium company, IRFU Chief Executive and Chairman of LRSDC, Philip Browne, spoke of the vision for the new stadium.

“It only seems like yesterday that the IRFU and the FAI, with more than a little assistance from the then Minister for Sport, John O’Donoghue, announced the formation of the Lansdowne Road Stadium Development Company,” he said.

“That was in September 2004 when all we really had was a vision, a vision to create a piece of world class sporting infrastructure that would do justice to our two most recognised international teams, which would also act as the financial engine to generate funding for the development of soccer and rugby in this country.”

He went on to thank all of those involved in the project, noting that over the course of the three years over 6,000 people had been involved with up to 1,300 people being on site at the busiest of times.

“In all, some four million man hours went into the project,” he said. 

In conclusion, Browne thanked Aviva plc, the company which purchased the naming rights of the stadium and which ultimately provided an important element of the finance for the stadium.

“On behalf of the IRFU, the FAI and all involved with the stadium, I would like to thank Aviva for their belief and ultimate investment in the project,” he said. 

John Delaney, the FAI Chief Executive, said: “The opening of the Aviva Stadium and our new home marks a new chapter in the story of Irish football. It could not have been achieved without a unity of purpose and determination shown by the IRFU and the Government, our partners in this project.

“Thanks to that solid partnership, players and volunteers from both sporting codes in clubs, leagues and affiliates nationwide will enjoy the benefits of a home to be proud of.

“I want to thank our loyal supporters who have followed our teams through thick and thin from the days of the old Lansdowne Road and I look forward to welcoming them to a new fortress for Irish football at the Aviva Stadium.”

John Callaghan, President of the IRFU, added: “This venue has been the home of Irish rugby since 1878 and rooted in those 132 years is the celebration and joy for the Irish rugby community that today we are back in our spiritual home.

“The unveiling of this magnificent new facility marks the dawning of an exciting new era on the Irish sporting landscape.

“It is the reward, too, for a classic example of sporting ecumenism between the IRFU and the FAI, backboned by critical Government support, plus the Aviva company bolstering the effort as stadium title sponsors. Together we shared a dream in the common interest of sport. Today we have realised it.”


– The Aviva Stadium has a seated capacity of 50,000. All seating in the stadium is under cover of a roof; however, the roof does not extend over the pitch

– The stadium consists of a continuous curvilinear shaped Stand enclosing all four sides of the ground. The South, East and West Stands have four tiers of seating for spectators. The bottom and top tiers provide the main volume of spectating facilities

– The second tier provides facilities for premium ticket holders and the third tier provides facilities for corporate boxes

– There are 10,000 seats at premium level and a further 1,300 at box level. Many of these were sold in advance to help finance the overall project

– The North Stand comprises one low level seating tier, to reflect its proximity to the residential properties at that end of the ground

– There is continuous access around the three sides to all facilities at premium and box levels

– There are excellent hospitality facilities throughout the ground

– The redeveloped stadium is designed to provide superb facilities not alone for spectators but also for players, the media and the many support personnel needed to stage all events

– The unique design of the new stands and roof creates additional weather protected seating capacity

– Space for the redevelopment was created by a realignment of the pitch (rotating it 15 degrees) and by the creation of a new access podium over the railway line. This podium, above the railway line, allows spectators access the stadium at premium seat level

– The former two rear pitches which ran East-West were also realigned and combined into one pitch running North-South

– A more balanced, across the board network of access and egress routes make it easier and more convenient for spectators to get to and leave the stadium relieving congestion on adjoining neighbours. These include underpasses which allow the level crossing gates for the Dart to be left permanently closed on matchdays

– Improved player facilities for home and away teams are custom designed to meet the requirements of the various codes. These include warm-up rooms and state-of-the-art treatment facilities

– Enhanced press facilities for 200 journalists (increasing to 400 for certain events) include TV monitors, interview rooms and all modern connectivity requirements

– TV/Radio commentary boxes are located on the upper level with optimum viewing locations and easy access to flash interview positions

– The provision of a large number of high quality toilets adequate both for match days and for events such as concerts where there may be a different mix of spectators

– Quality medical support facilities are provided for both players and spectators

– There are better facilities for disabled fans with 230 wheelchair spaces located throughout the stadium

– Wide concourses and comfortable spatial allowances ensure easy circulation for spectators

– The architectural theme for the stadium is both innovative and in harmony with the surrounding cityscape

– Clear delineation between spectator and service areas ensure that service and/or emergency vehicles need never compete with spectators for the same space

– A hi-tech communications nerve centre to allows for continuous monitoring of all aspects of the stadium, both inside and outside the ground

– State-of-the-art pitch floodlighting is incorporated in the new Stands

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