Ireland’s Croke Park Stadium has become the world’s first arena to be formally recognised as being Age Friendly by the World Health Organisation (WHO).
Leaders at the Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA) said the designation came after the 82,000-capacity stadium undertook a process of change to ensure that older people can continue to enjoy its facilities. The Dublin stadium has improved its accessibility, such as access routes, accessible seating and signage, and it has also committed to delivering staff training and discounted tickets for older fans.
Croke Park said its bid was also aided by its encouragement of older people to become employees and volunteers. It added that initiatives such as the GAA’s Social Initiative, its health and wellbeing work and the GAA volunteer response to Covid, demonstrate the association’s commitment to being age friendly.
Peter McKenna, Croke Park Stadium director, said: “We pride ourselves in setting high standards in the stadium – and indeed across the GAA – in everything we do and our new-found status as the first Age Friendly Stadium anywhere is a source of great pride to us.
“Age should not be a debarment to experiencing an enjoyable day in the stadium. To that end we have worked with our partners in this project to commit to ensuring that some of our most cherished and more senior members of the organisation and visitors to the stadium can continue to enjoy great days out at the iconic arena that is Croke Park.”
Croke Park officials said the process has been a method of ‘future proofing’ Ireland’s largest venue, and a significant step in preparing for population ageing. Dublin staged the first WHO international conference on age-friendly cities in 2011.
Alana Officer, unit head of demographic change and healthy ageing at the WHO, said: “I welcome the Age Friendly Stadium guidance document which shows how with bold leadership and a systematic approach, Ireland has ensured that its largest sporting and cultural centre – Croke Park Stadium, the home of the Gaelic Athletic Association – has been transformed into the first Age Friendly Stadium.”