The Stage Is Set

by Neil Sherwin

After three years of work, Dublin’s Aviva Stadium has finally been officially opened, and BackPageFootball looks at the new stage for Irish football.

At a cost of €410 million, the new Aviva Stadium has finally arrived with the official opening on Friday.

The ribbon was cut on the 50,000 all-seater stadium was by Taoiseach Brian Cowen, and present at the ceremony was Giovanni Trappatoni, as well as former Irish internationals Packie Bonner and Ray Houghton.

An impressive array of facilities are in place to cater for the every needs of spectators

The general admission areas are serviced by 18 bars, 16 food outlets and 2 confectionery units, and the average punter will be pleased to hear that a ‘state of the art’ beer system has been installed.

This system can dispense a pint in four seconds with the capability across the stadium of dispensing over 2,000 pints per minute.

There is seating for 11,500 people on the Premium and Box levels, with 36 corporate boxes in total between the east and west stands, as well as the President’s suite.

The much maligned north stand unfortunately sticks out like a sore thumb, and in many ways resembles Hill 16 in Croke Park, giving the stadium an unfinished look.

It only holds 3000 spectators and will most likely be used to house away fans during soccer games.

Given the cramped site for construction, it was always going to be difficult to , and the complaints from local residents have resulted in the mini-stand to prevent the blocking of natural light.

There is also a major issue with restricted views from the top rows due to the overhang from the roof of the stands.

However despite the obvious design problems, FAI chief John Delaney feels that the stadium offers Ireland a solid platform to bring more money into the country.

“I have no doubt that this stadium will bring revenues to rugby and soccer that they’ve never had before,” he said.

“We can attract competitions that we have never been able to do before.”

Indeed, the Aviva has already secured its first major soccer event with the Europa Cup Final to be staged there at the end of next season.

The first game to be played in the stadium will see Manchester United take on an Airtricity League XI on August 4, and Ireland will take on Argentina in the maiden internationala week later.

The Aviva Stadium will also host the FAI Cup Final every year.