IRELAND – Ireland’s first indoor GAA pitch will be capable of hosting the Eurovision Song Contest if required when work on the structure in Co Mayo is finished this year.
The €3.1m indoor dome at the Connacht GAA Centre of Excellence in Bekan in Mayo was due to be completed later this month but the COVID-19 outbreak has pushed that back.
But the air dome will be able to host a variety of events when it is completed and while the primary aim will be to provide an indoor facility for matches and training, it will also be capable of holding exhibitions and concerts in the future.
Connacht GAA Secretary John Prenty said that the funding for the project was sourced before work began last year and similar to all the facilities developed on the 86-acre facility in Bekan, will not have any debt.
“Everything inside the gate in Bekan has been fully paid for. There is no debt and we are hopeful this is a facility which will bring benefits for everyone when it is finished. We get a lot of bad weather in these parts and this will be a facility which won’t be impacted by that,” he said.
Close on 30,000 tonnes of stone have been put in place for the foundation for a dome which will be kept inflated by air at a cost of about €400 a month.
The pitch will be 130 metres long by 80 wide and will be 26 metres in height,” he added. “That’s the height of goalposts and anyone kicking it higher than that shouldn’t be out there,” quipped Prenty. “If you are going to be hitting the roof you should be taken off.”
The indoor dome is the latest to come on stream at the Mayo facility, with five grass and one Astro full-size pitches already in place, three of them with floodlights.
The facility could have 10,000 people at a concert in the future and with the 1993 Eurovision having taken place at a horse arena in Millstreet in Cork, the new dome in Mayo could be an option if Ireland ever get to stage the song contest again.