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GAA reveal Security cost row may have scuppered Katie Taylor’s Croke Park dream

Croke Park commercial director Peter McKenna says security costs and disagreement over who should pay it, scuppered Katie Taylor’s dream of fighting at the historic venue.

Eddie Hearn officially confirmed that Croke Park would not host Katie Taylor’s homecoming or the potential rematch with Amanda Serrano last night.

The Matchroom boss said ‘the cost of everything involved with the event is nearly three times more than staging it at Wembley Stadium’ and thus the Irish great’s first professional fight in Ireland will take place at the 3Arena on May 20.

McKenna claims the rental cost of Croke Park is only slightly higher than that of Wembley and the price was driven up by security requirements. McKenna revealed the GAA would require the ‘top level’ security, which would cost €400k. The GAA wants the promoter to pay the extra cost and Matchroom are not willing.

“We would love to have the fight here,” he said at the launch of the GAA’s annual report and financial results.

“The last time we talked to them properly was before Christmas. Our rent was coming in around €400k. I think the rent for Wembley is about £250k/300k (€280-355k). We are not colossally more expensive than Wembley.

“The real issue here is about security costs, which we felt the promoter should carry.

“I think the surprise was that our focus on security and attention to detail was far more than they would have expected in a Wembley scenario or Bethnal Green scenario. You’re talking about bringing 60-70,000 people into a stadium for a fight that’s late in the evening with quite a bit of alcohol taken.

“We looked at the risk analysis on the event and we felt that the amount of security that you’d need would be at the top level and that is not inexpensive.

“So I think maybe there’s a worry there they wouldn’t quite get the attendance and also the costs associated with hosting an event at a certain standard, that we would be very proud that we would hold to, has caused a little bit of jitters.”

McKenna says the GAA would have ‘loved’ to welcome Taylor to Croke Park -but is adamant they could only do so with the highest bracket of security in place.

“The costs quoted are far less than we’d normally charge because we would have loved to have had Katie Taylor. The eyes of the world would be on us.

“What you have to do though is bear in mind the Euro 2020 scenario. If you look at what happened in Wembley at the Euros, there was carnage there and a public inquiry. Baroness Casey was scathing on the lack of stewards, the police didn’t deploy until too late.

“Police don’t deploy for Croke Park or the Aviva or anywhere else – they’re actually here. You’re not waiting for them to arrive.

“So we, and I think everyone in the event industry based in Ireland, would pride ourselves on the fact that we run very, very safe events and if that costs then that’s a cost that we have to do.

“The eyes of the world are on us for these type of events and we’re not going to change our position on that.

“We run events very well from my view – 400,000 came to Garth Brooks and we had no issues. There’s an awful lot of work goes into that, preparing the plans and a lot of agencies involved. There’s the gardai, the fire brigade, Dublin City Council, all contributing to a plan that’s cohesive.”


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