When the extensively refurbished Lansdowne Road re-opens next year, the 50,000 all seater stadium will have a new name: The Aviva Stadium. February 2009 saw the announcement made to the Irish media that the British Insurance giant Hibernian Aviva had signed a 10-year deal for the naming rights of the brand new stadium. Read on for more…
The home of Irish Rugby since 1878 and Irish soccer internationals since 1971, Lansdowne Road has a special place in Irish sporting history, not least for the famous “Lansdowne Roar”, which greeted an Irish try or goal! As modern Ireland made its way through the new Millenium, clearly a need for a new and vibrant national stadium was apparent.
Many different locations were sized up, discussed and plans submitted, but teething issues such as planning permission, exact location of the site, and the perennial problem of cost became a major issue. What was finally agreed upon by the IRFU, FAI and the Irish Government made perfect sense – we had the site at Lansdowne Road already, so it made perfect sense to redevelop the famous venue into a modern stadium that supporters could be proud of.
The old stadium was demolished after the last rugby international tests were played there in November 2006, and work began on construction of the new stadium. The redeveloped all-seater stadium with a capacity of 50,000 is due for completion by April 2010 with the first match to be staged at the venue later that summer after the pitch has had time to bed in.
It was announced on February 12th 2009 that Lansdowne Road will be renamed as Aviva Stadium as part of a naming rights agreement with British Insurance giant Aviva. Exact details of the deal were not disclosed, but the deal is rumoured to be worth €44 million for 10 years with the option of a further five years. The deal will also provide investment for the IRFU and FAI as part of their grassroots programmes.
The deal has been strongly received and welcomed by both the Irish Rugby and Football bodies. Given the tough economic conditions that Ireland is presently facing, the Aviva Stadium is envisaged to be of huge benefit to the economy as a whole. For example, a Six Nations match between Ireland and England has generated an economic impact of around €90 for the local economy, according to research. Philip Browne, chief executive of the Irish Rugby Football Union has declared that Hibernian Aviva’s support will drive both rugby and soccer and the Irish economy at a time when it needs it more than ever.
In any year it is estimated that Aviva Stadium could host potentially ten large international sporting events, not to mention music concerts, and events such as the 2011 UEFA Europa League Final (the present UEFA Cup Final which has its title changed for the 2009-10 season) and a possible Club Rugby Heineken Cup Final.
The decision by Europe’s soccer body UEFA to award the hosting of the 2011 Europa League Final to Aviva Stadium has been warmly welcomed by John Delaney, FAI Chief Executive. The FAI are delighted that UEFA clearly saw the potential of the venue, and the decision to grant it for Dublin was a massive generation of publicity for the new stadium. The FAI have welcomed the partnership with Hibernian Aviva and they feel that the move will strengthen grassroots programmes which shall encourage participation in football amongst children and young adults.
The first match at the Aviva Stadium is rumoured to be a Rugby test match with Ireland facing a Southern Hemisphere nation, and it has been confirmed that the Diego Maradona led Argentina soccer team will be the first soccer team to play at the new arena.
The Aviva Stadium will be a state of the art venue consisting of a continuous curved shaped stand enclosing the four sides of the stadium, with corporate boxes, and reaching standards of excellence and safety for supporters, including better access in and out of the stadium. Find out more about the Aviva Stadium.
Accommodation for busy periods such as sports events in Dublin is often fully sold out, so why not book early in time for the stadium opening in 2010 and reserve Hotels in Dublin.
Have you previously been to the old Lansdowne Road Stadium? What did you think of it? Will the new Aviva Stadium recreate the special atmosphere of the famous “Lansdowne Roar”? Let us know – we appreciate your comments!