A few weeks ago, the entire DBS group took a day trip to tour Croke Park. Croke Park is the home stadium and hub of the GAA. We first sat through an information session that taught us about the function of the building and the workings of each sport. Then, we were able to tour the entire stadium, seeing the field, stands, luxury boxes, dressing rooms, and finally its museum. Croke Park is an 82,300-seat stadium that hosts over 50 GAA, Hurling and Gaelic Football matches every year. Although it is the home of the playing of GAA sports, it also served as the headquarters and main offices for all GAA employees. It was renovated, starting in the 1980s at a cost of €260 million, and took 14 years to complete. These renovations made the stadium the fourth largest in the world, only behind Camp Nou, Wembly Stadium and the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu. It is however, the largest stadium not used for association football. The most impressive part of the tour was that they were able to build such an impressive stadium for amateur sport. I learned that unlike the Australian Football League, none of the GAA players are paid, but rather participate in their free time.
The most interesting cultural learning part of this trip was based on Rule 5.1. Rule 5.1 stated that all sports whose interests are considered in conflict with those of the GAA are prohibited from playing on Croke Park. However, on 16 April 2005, the GAA’s congress voted temporarily to relax the regulations of Rule 5.1 and to allow both soccer and rugby matched to be held at Croke Park. I think that this shows great progress for the association, and means that they are becoming more accepting of other cultures passions. This change in rule will also reap benefits for the GAA, who are currently able to increase their revenue while GAA sports are not using the field.