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The Redevelopment Of Thomond Park

16th November 2018 By The Editor

A view of Thomond Park and the back pitch.

A view of Thomond Park and the back pitch.

The 10-year anniversary of the official opening of the redeveloped Thomond Park takes place this Sunday, November 18.

The 10-year anniversary of the official opening of the redeveloped Thomond Park takes place this Sunday, November 18.

Munster hosted the All Blacks for the official opening in one of the most iconic occasions to take place at the Limerick venue.

Having been completed just two months previously, hosting such a high-profile game at the ‘new’ stadium was a huge undertaking.

As an event it couldn’t really have gone any better. From the delivery of the match ball by the air corps via a helicopter to the famous Munster haka from Doug Howlett, Rua Tipoki, Lifeimi Mafi and Jeremy Manning and an incredible contest on the field.

It was a true ‘I was there’ event with Joe Rokocoko’s late try breaking Munster hearts on an occasion that will live long in the memory.

The redevelopment of the 11,091 capacity Thomond Park was first explored in 2003.

The time period from appointment of the design team in February 2006 to completion in September 2008 was 32 months with a construction period of 19 months.

The redevelopment involved the demolition of the existing stand and buildings and the construction of two new stands (West and East) offering a seating capacity of 15,000. These new covered stands were built either side of the pitch without affecting continuing matches.

One of the priorities in the redevelopment was maintaining the atmosphere and close relationship between players and spectators.

This was no mean feat with the capacity to be increased by almost 15,000 to 25,600.

The key design aspirations were as follows.

  • To ensure that a stadium of the scale required had a positive impact on the cityscape and skyline, given its elevated site in relation to the surrounding city.
  • The building should integrate with its immediate context. The scale of existing structures in the area is predominantly two-storey with residences located directly to the north and south of the existing stadium. The design challenge to incorporate a large structure in these surroundings was significant.
  • The new home for Munster rugby should befit their status as one of the leading rugby clubs in Europe.

These aspirations were set against the backdrop of an extremely challenging project budget where every design decision needed to be justifiable economically.

The mix of vibrant seat colours in both stands with the ratio 60% red, 30% navy and 10% gold corresponds with the colour mix in the Munster logo. This avoids the monotonous effect of a single colour seat.

The three-dimensional form of the stands is a direct product of achieving optimum viewing for all spectators. The optimum functional layout of a stadium is generated by accommodating all spectators within 90 metres of the centre of the pitch and within 150 metres of all four corners of the playing surface.

The fact that Thomond Park is not enclosed on all four sides is important so that views into and out of the stadium are maintained. A “bowl” type stadium would eliminate the visual and acoustic connection with the city. The barking dogs of Ballynanty and the hum of traffic on Cratloe road add to the atmosphere when silence descends on the stadium prior to goal kicks. These small but important aspects are an important part of the distinctive character of the stadium.

The long arch or rainbow truss solution adopted is central to the architectural expression of the building, with the trusses being visible from many parts of the city and on its approach routes

Many new stadiums experience a “bedding in” period in the first season when players and supporters alike adapt to the new surroundings. However, the All Blacks rematch demonstrated that the redeveloped Thomond Park would be as intimidating, intense and overwhelming as the more modest venue that it replaced.

To celebrate the 10-year anniversary of the redevelopment, Munster’s European jersey for the next two seasons takes design inspiration from Thomond Park. The vivid red adidas jersey has a hint of navy and gold detail throughout, inspired by the mix of vibrant and recognisable seat colours in the stands of Thomond Park.

Since then, Munster have also redeveloped Irish Independent Park with a new 3,500 West Stand and the covering of the East Terrace completed early in 2015. A new modified 3G pitch was installed ate the Cork venue over the summer to allow for a significant increase in games played to assist in the province’s efforts of growing the game at grassroots level.

A new training facility was built at the University of Limerick ahead of the 2016/17 season, the High Performance Centre. The Centre marked a new era for the province as the squad operated from a single training base for the first time.

The new facility also houses the Greencore Munster Rugby Academy and some Domestic Game staff.

Tickets – Final Three Home Games Of 2018

Friday, November 30

Guinness PRO14: Munster v Edinburgh, Irish Independent Park, 7.35pm; Buy Tickets

Sunday, December 9

Champions Cup: Munster v Castres Olympique, Thomond Park, 1pm; Buy Tickets

Saturday, December 29

Guinness PRO14: Munster v Leinster, Thomond Park, 5.15pm; Buy Tickets

Video | High Performance Centre

The West Stand at Irish Independent Park.

The West Stand at Irish Independent Park.

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