How Croke Park is preparing crowd flows and F&B concourses

Croke Park, home of Gaelic Athletic Association, can typically host up to 80,300 fans. Even at a reduced capacity that would still be a large amount of people once fans are allowed back at the stadium. During ESSMA Spotlight, Emma Kelly discussed Croke Park’s preparations and planning linked to crowd flow procedures, how they operated during matches behind closed doors and adapted F&B measures.

Matches behind closed doors

In 2019, the 80,300-capacity venue welcomed over 1.3 million visitors, while in 2020 they only welcomed 121,087. Their main activities last year included several matches behind closed doors, a drive-through COVID-19 testing centre, the Eid Al Adha celebration, RCSI college classes and Irish Courts services.

As GAA is an amateur sport with players still having a daytime job, the idea of social bubbels was not possible. Therefore the aspect of social distancing between the players was even more important. Furthermore, there was a maximum cap of 40 players and staff per team.

Even though fans haven’t been able to attend any matches, Croke Park has integrated a lot of COVID-19 measures linked to catering including Grab & Go options and cashless payment. As sustainability is important at Croke Park, the venue opted for biodegradable food containers and cutlery.

Future of F&B procedures

How the F&B stands will look like once fans are allowed again, is not yet fixed but the focus will be on:

  • A better circulation of fans on the concourse; 

  • Additional outlets to reduce queues: 

  • Reduced menu options;

  • and a reviewed food & beverage policy.

An example an F&B stand at Croke Park

As we haven’t organised a test event yet, we’re still in a planning phase to prepare as good as possible.

From street to seat

Another important aspect touched upon by Mrs. Kelly was the circulation and crowd flow within the stadium. In addition to the crowd flow, it will be important to identify any pinch points and reduce queues as much as possible e.g. opening extra turnstiles, offering digital matchday programmes instead of flyers and training the stewards even more. Another interesting point to consider is the alcohol policy. At the moment, fans are only allowed to drink at the concourses and not in their seats.

Takeaway from Emma Kelly:

Think of your operations from a spectator point of view. Think of what spectators would have done and what they would have experienced in the past and how they will need to adapt to COVID-19. Take that in consideration for the adaptations that you will make to your operations and make it as simple as possible for them.

Learn more

ESSMA Spotlight participants can access the recorded livestream via the ESSMA Spotlight platform. If you couldn't join us during ESSMA Spotlight, you can only access the .pdf presentations via the ESSMA Knowledge Platform.