Laszlo Geczo/INPHO A view of Croke Park.
# No Go
Croke Park chief says no Taylor fight due to security costs
Stadium director Peter McKenna said Croke Park believe Taylor’s promoters Matchroom should carry security costs.

CROKE PARK STADIUM director Peter McKenna has confirmed that Katie Taylor won’t fight at the venue this summer.

A historic mid-May rematch between Taylor and Amanda Serrano had been floated for the home of the GAA but promoter Eddie Hearn, head of Matchroom, has been turned off by security costs.

McKenna stated that the GAA was prepared to rent out the venue for around €400,000, contrasting this with an estimated figure of around €300,000 for Wembley Stadium. Hearn last night said the total cost of staging the fight at Croke Park would have been three times what it would cost to stage it at Wembley. 

Separate security costs around hosting the event apparently came as a surprise to Hearn with McKenna suggesting that the promoter may not have expected “that our focus on security and our attention to detail was far more than what they would have expected in a Wembley scenario or a Bethnal Green scenario.” 

McKenna concluded that this is “just the way we do things”, noting the “carnage” that occurred at the Euro 2020 football final at Wembley when crowd trouble occurred and made international headlines.

“The costs that I’m saying there are far less than what we would normally charge,” said McKenna. “Because we would love to have Katie Taylor fighting here, for all of the reasons…because the eyes of the world would be on us. We’re never shy in bringing world class events, like the Special Olympics or the papal visit. It’s part of what we’re about but you’ve got to do it in a safe way. None of us want a big Euro 2020 scenario where there’s carnage all over the place.”

McKenna said that the Hutch-Kinahan gangland feud and the ongoing trial over a gangland murder which took place during a boxing event at the nearby Regency Hotel had nothing to do with the focus on security.

“That would be a small part of the overall (situation)…you’re talking about bringing 60 or 70,000 people into a stadium and that requires…at a fight that’s going to be late in the evening, quite a lot of alcohol taken, they’re the issues you’d be thinking about, not the fact that it’s in Ballybough, the people of Ballybough are fantastic,” he said. “400,000 people came for Garth Brooks and there were no issues, that’s the point we need to get across. It’s how an event is staged, not the event itself.”

McKenna said it is his understanding that Taylor’s homecoming fight will now take place at the more compact 3Arena. It will go down as a missed opportunity for a historic event at what many view as the home of Irish sport though the GAA chief rejected that the government should have done more to make it happen.

“Genuinely, I don’t think that’s fair because I went and met with the Minister, with Matchroom,” he said. “I think they were very, very supportive but they needed something on paper, something that said, ‘Listen, this is what we want, this is why we want it’, and that really wasn’t forthcoming, to be honest. You can’t really just walk in and say, ‘Give us a cheque’. All of us in sport and particularly during Covid were kept alive by government, taxpayers’ money, but you’ve got to be respectful to the office and bring something more formal than just a fireside chat.”

A third Taylor-Serrano fight could yet occur later in the year though for that to take place at Croke Park it would appear that the security costs would have to be picked up by the promoter.

“The real issue here is around security costs which we felt the promoter should carry and having gone through this with the statutory services, and our own team, we looked at a risk analysis on the event and we felt that an amount of security that you would need would be at the top level,” said McKenna. “And that is not inexpensive.”

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