Katie Taylor celebrates her Madison Square Garden victory over Amanda Serrano. Gary Carr/INPHO

Katie Taylor's Croke Park dream is over due to costs, with homecoming set for 3Arena

GAA HQ has proven too expensive to rent for a Taylor homecoming bout, with promoter Eddie Hearn expressing his frustration.

KATIE TAYLOR’S DREAM of fighting in front of 80-odd-thousand Irish fans at Croke Park has all but ended due to the costs involved in renting the stadium.

The42 understands that Taylor’s long-awaited homecoming fight is now instead set to take place at Dublin’s 3Arena on 20 May, where her opponent should still be Amanda Serrano provided the Puerto Rican great comes through her undisputed featherweight title clash with Erika Cruz this Saturday night.

Taylor has travelled from her home in Vernon, Connecticut to New York to attend Serrano’s fight and a rematch of their Madison Square Garden classic last April will likely be officially announced from the same venue in the early hours of Sunday morning (Irish time) in the event that Serrano emerges victorious.

Croke Park will not be the venue when they meet again, however, after promoter Eddie Hearn and his Matchroom Boxing company were unable to reach financial terms with stadium officials for use of GAA HQ in May.

Hearn confirmed in an interview with Boxing King Media that talks between the parties had reached a dead end, his bones of contention including a claim that the home of Gaelic Games was three times more expensive to rent than Wembley Stadium.

“The fight won’t take place at Croke Park,” Hearn said. “We’ve done everything we can to [make it happen].

Ultimately and bizarrely, the cost of doing a show at Croke Park is three times more than Wembley.

“And people will say on social media, ‘Oh, pay the money, Hearn!’ It’s like, no, no: the fighters want this much money. If we do it at Croke Park, even with a sellout, with the cost that they want to charge, it’s not possible to give the fighters what they deserve.

“So, we will go to an arena in Ireland if we make Taylor-Serrano and if Serrano comes through on Saturday night.

One thing I promise is we will be in Ireland for Katie Taylor’s next fight. That will happen.

The42 understands that Matchroom and Croke Park agreed a ‘rental fee’ for the stadium’s usage as far back as November, but Hearn and co. subsequently received a list of additional operational charges which doubled the overall running cost.

These secondary charges took Hearn and co. by surprise as they are typically incorporated into the rental fee for English stadiums.

In his interview with Boxing King Media, Hearn acknowledged that a lot of the additional event costs — such as security and policing — “are outside of the control of Croke Park”, but added that “there’s a lot of costs that aren’t.”

The promoter also expressed his disappointment that the Irish government ultimately hadn’t lent any support to Matchroom’s efforts to stage the fight at Croker.

Taylor’s camp are fully cognisant that the government is under no obligation to support a professional boxing event, but they hoped that relevant politicians would recognise the cultural significance of having an all-time Irish sporting great compete at the home of Gaelic games in front of a global audience. There was recent precedent for their optimism in that the government provided significant assistance to the Irish Women’s Open golf tournament at Dromoland Castle just last summer.

It’s understood that the previous Minister for Sport, Jack Chambers, was extremely receptive to the concept of a Taylor homecoming at Croker and had expressed a willingness to work with Matchroom and the GAA on the matter. However, communication to that effect has been far less forthcoming since December’s Cabinet reshuffle.

Hearn said: “When you talk about ‘government help’ or ‘support’, people think that we shouldn’t be asking for that.

I’m not having a pop at the Irish government but if the government are supporting sporting events — which they do — how can you not support an event that will quite simply be one of the greatest events in the history of Irish sport?

“It’s disappointing.”

Matchroom did also explore other outdoor venues in Ireland as potential homes for a Taylor-headlined event.

Rugby’s Champions Cup final takes place at the Aviva Stadium on Saturday 20 May, the date around which broadcaster DAZN has been planning for a Taylor fight to take place in Ireland since it was verbally agreed with Croke Park at an earlier stage in negotiations. That date is now effectively locked in, ruling out Lansdowne Road.

At GAA grounds outside of Dublin, logistical and infrastructural issues such as a lack of seating proved dissuasive — but there were also, again, more pertinent financial concerns: taking into consideration the overall cost of running a stadium show in Ireland, Matchroom would probably need to sell somewhere in the region of 50,000 tickets to avoid making a loss on the event.

The comparatively low price of renting the more ready-made 3Arena makes it the most feasible alternative, and Taylor’s 20 May bout at the 9,000-capacity indoor venue is likely to be formalised soon.

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