CROWDED HOUSE MacHale Park is expected to be full for the meeting of Mayo and Donegal in the All-Ireland Senior Football Championship on Saturday week. Pic: Sportsfile
GAA chiefs are working to find a way to increase the official capacity of MacHale Park, Castlebar for Saturday week’s All-Ireland SFC Phase 3 quarter-final between Mayo and Donegal.
As it stands, in line with Health and Safety regulations, the capacity for the knock-out championship clash has been set at 25,369 — the permitted attendance for one game with unreserved seating at MacHale Park.
However, if an inter-county curtain-raiser match could be played before the Mayo v Donegal clash, it would see the capacity increased by approximately 1,500.
This would also be the case if GAA officials increased the amount of time available to allow patrons to gain access to the stadium before the game.
Among the factors being taken into consideration to try and make that happen are the number of turnstiles in operation at the venue, and what time those turnstiles are opened on the day of the game.
The Mayo News understands that both options are currently being explored, with a decision on the final capacity number set to be announced on Monday.
The Connacht GAA Council are responsible for the organisation and operations of all All-Ireland SFC Qualifiers and ‘Super 8s’ games that are played in the province.
Speaking to The Mayo News, Connacht GAA secretary, John Prenty, explained the lie of the land this afternoon (Thursday).
“I’ve been in Croke Park for the last two days and we’ve been exploring all options,” he said. “We’re working on trying to get a relevant curtain-raiser and we’re also working on trying to find a way to increase the amount of time to let people into the ground on the day.
“Our paramount concern is the safety of people going into and coming out of the venue.
“There is a formula that is used to calculate the capacity for GAA grounds,” he added.
“This formula takes a number of different variables into account, such as whether the game is a stand-alone fixture or a double header; whether the seating is reserved or unreserved; the number of turnstiles at a venue, and what times you start letting people into the ground.
“For example, if you had a double header at MacHale Park, with reserved seating in operation, then the capacity of the ground would be set at around 31,000.
“If you had one game at MacHale Park, with reserved seating, then the capacity would be around 28,000. When you have unreserved seating for a fixture like this, you reduce your capacity by 10%.”
Prenty also confirmed that the maximum capacity for a GAA fixture at MacHale Park, under Health and Safety guidelines and regulations, is approximately 31,000.
It is believed that around 20,000 tickets have already been purchased by Mayo and Donegal supporters are they went on general sale online earlier this week.
No more tickets for the game are expected to be made available for general sale, unless either the Mayo GAA Board or Donegal GAA Board return some of their club allocations next week.
“My advice to supporters who haven’t got a ticket for the match yet is to apply to their local GAA clubs,” added John Prenty.
MEANWHILE, the GAA have confirmed that the dates and times for the upcoming All-Ireland SFC semi-finals.
The winner of Mayo’s ‘Super 8s’ group will face the Group 2 runner-up (Dublin or Tyrone) on Sunday, August 11 in Croke Park at 3.30pm.
The runner-up in Mayo’s group will take on the Group 2 winners (Dublin or Tyrone) on Saturday, August 10 in Croke Park at 5pm.