Munster Rugby have applied for funding to turn the natural grass surface of Irish Independent park to an artificial 4G surface
To fund this project, Munster have applied for a sports capital grant with the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport. This grant would go towards the first phase of the stadium upgrade of changing the playing surface.
Musgrave park is renowned for its immaculate surface but If this project is to go ahead they would be following the likes of Saracens Allianz Park and Glasgow’s Scotstoun stadium in completely changing the surface to an all weather artificial one.
As part of the second phase of the ground’s upgrade, a new gym is hoped to be built to cater for underage Munster teams in the area. Head of finance and operations with the province, Phillip Quinn believes they will have a reply on the application before the end of the summer.
Speaking on Munsters state of play update Quinn remarked:
“In terms of the long-term strategy here in Cork, the first thing to note is that Cork is huge… it’s vital in the overall success of Munster Rugby,”
“We have opened the High Performance Centre in Limerick so we have to remain engaged here in Cork. We are looking at a long-term project for a potential upgrade of the stadium again.
“Phase one of that would be the installation of a 4G pitch on the main pitch. The second part is to then look at building a gym here. We need to service our underage structures here in the province.”
Munster reopened the redeveloped Musgrave Park in 2015 with a new 3,500 seater stand along with covered terracing which increased the overall capacity of the stadium to an impressive 9,500.
Due to financial constraints and the need to finance the rebuilding of Thomond Park, Quinn said that most of Munster’s games will stay in Limerick.
“At the moment we play four PRO12 matches in Cork. The issue of playing more than that comes down to capacity. If we were to move a match from Limerick it would cost us money. There are financial constraints facing us at the moment.
“It is something we always look at, we never rule it out. We look at the attendance each season and see how we can adapt the following year.
“When we are compared to other provinces you don’t hear the likes of Ulster and Leinster being spoken about with financial deficit compared to Munster over the last few years. We have been lucky we have been able to record a financial surplus for the coming year ending June 2017.
“The major difference between us and other provinces is that when did a redevelopment we sold just under 3,000 10-year tickets. Without those 10-year ticket holders the redevelopment (of Thomond Park) would not have happened.
“That brought in €15 million. That was crucial to be able to fund the development, and that was €15 million out of our operation income that we literally put into our capital development.
“The outcome on the other side then is that for every match that we play at Thomond Park we have 3,000 tickets where we have no income coming in for it. That takes about 1.5 million a year out of our annual turnover that has been put into the capital project.”