Blogs: Richard Weber
Tuesday, March 11, 2014
Day 3 Started with a lovely Irish breakfast in the hotel restaurant. Following breakfast the group had our morning meeting to make sure everyone was awake and dressed appropriately for the day’s activities.
Following the meeting, following a short bus ride, the group arrived at Croke Stadium. This facility is remarkable in that it has a seating capacity of 82,300 which includes 87 corporate skyboxes each having 32 seats, a separate level for season ticket holders, no smoking or drinking is allowed in the seating area; done to protect the children who are attending the event. The facility is to the Irish what a combination trip to the Football Hall of Fame and sideline tickets to the Superbowl would be to American football fans. Every Irish child dreams of one day leaving the locker room and running out to the pitch to represent their county in the All-Ireland Finals.
We were visiting the Gaelic Athletic Association headquarters to meet with their marketing director; however, she was pulled away unavoidably by another engagement-she was meeting with local counsel men to discuss the concert schedule and address the concerns of the neighboring communities. Our first stop on the tour was in a presentation room where we watched a short video on Gaelic sports and received a 15 presentation on some of the history as well as future of the games. We then were able to walk the route the player’s buses would take to enter the stadium down to the locker-rooms. We entered the locker room which had been decorated with a jersey from each county-club in the league, including two of US teams from Boston and New York.
This may be the same locker room to be used by Penn State in August as it plays American football against the University of Central Florida. This annual game has been incorporated into the Championship weekend for the several Gaelic game leagues. The stadium will be hosting Garth Brooks for 5 nights in July as he launches his comeback tour leaving his show in Las Vegas and resumes touring.
We then went on to tour the stadium itself, Dr. Bechtel-Wherry lead our group in demonstrating the “We are Penn State” cheer that rolls through Happy valley and many other places Penn State may travel for various sporting engagements. Twenty people sitting in a stadium built for 82,000 can’t quite replicate a whiteout of 100,000 Penn State fans but we did what we could. Our host was caught off guard by the “Thank you your welcome” ending. We then visited one of the corporate skyboxes before ending our tour at the café and gift shop.
The next item on the daily agenda was lunch in a redeveloped area along the Grand Canal dock in Dublin. This area had formerly housed warehousing and dockside industries has been redeveloped in to large apartment complexes and a Theater as well as many of the other support business you would find in a densely populated area which also was home to many office buildings as well. The group separated into smaller pods and went to various eateries in the area. Some of the eateries had their own outdoor seating while others offered take-away service which allowed for some to partake of the ample seating available in the area around the water front.
We again boarded the bus and Mark our driver quickly took us to our next appointment with Setanta –a sports broad casting company. The company grew from two guys away from home who wanted to watch their “home” team in the world finals. The guys rented a bar and after a few phone calls were able to acquire the rights to have the game played in the bar via satellite. This was replicated for a short while then the entrepreneurs modified their business model from renting a bar to becoming a pay-per-view sports broadcaster. Today the business has grown to include several different sports channels all wearing the Setanta brand from the Ukraine and former soviet republics to South African and another for the rest of Sub-Saharan Africa. After a brief wrap up question and answer period it was on to our next appointment.
We arrived at the old Jameson Distillery for a tour and a presentation from their in-house marketing director. We started the tour with a video on the history of the making of Jameson Whiskey and their triple distillation process. After the video we were guide through a recreation of the distillery as it existed in decades past. Upon completing the tour those who desired were able to have a glass of Jameson either served neat or with ginger-ale and lime. Certain lucky individuals were able to enjoy a tasting which compared the American single distilled whiskey of Jack Daniels and the Scottish twice distilled Scotch of Johnny Walker to the thrice distilled Irish whiskey of Jameson. They we were shown to the Lounge area and on to the gift shop.
On the way back to the hotel at the end of the evening the driver stopped at the Guinness Brewery to allow those that wanted to visit the opportunity to view the city from a top the eight story brewery as well as buying souvenirs from yet another gift shop. The rest of the group returned to the hotel and enjoyed the evening in Dublin.