Sponsorship & Marketing

Cork GAA holds off on Páirc Uí Chaoimh deal

Páirc Uí Chaoimh in Cork, Ireland

Featured image credit: Charlesolivercork/CC BY-SA 4.0/Edited for size

The Cork County Board of the Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA) has put a proposed naming rights deal for Páirc Uí Chaoimh on hold amid the controversy it has provoked, while The Sportsground in Galway is also reportedly close to a new sponsorship contract.

The Páirc Uí Chaoimh deal first came to light on Monday, as the Irish Examiner reported that an agreement was in the works that would see Irish supermarket chain SuperValu put its name to one of the country’s most prominent Gaelic games venues.

A five-year deal, worth a reported €250,000 (£214,000/$272,000) per year, is said to be on the table but the proposed new name for the stadium, SuperValu Páirc, has provoked a backlash. Páirc Uí Chaoimh has held its current moniker since opening in 1976. It is named after Pádraig Ó Caoimh, the 35-year GAA director general who oversaw a period of great reform for the governing body, including an extensive redevelopment of the iconic Croke Park.

Ahead of a Cork GAA meeting yesterday (Tuesday) evening, the proposed renaming had caused great debate. Ó Caoimh’s grandson, Dónal, said that while he wasn’t against the sponsorship in principal, he did oppose the removal of his grandfather’s name.

He told RTÉ Radio 1: “I’m shocked and saddened that SuperValu would consider making the eradication of my grandfather’s legacy a condition of sponsorship. He (Padraig O’Caoimh) meant so much to so many people.”

Tánaiste Micheál Martin also weighed in on the matter, stating on Twitter/X: “Pádraig Uí Chaoimh was a key figure in the formation of the GAA at club and national level. Govt allocated €30m towards the development of the stadium and never sought naming rights.”

In response, Cork GAA said in a statement: “Cork GAA can confirm that it is in discussions with SuperValu regarding the naming rights for Páirc Uí Chaoimh.

“While no matter had been finalised prior to the meeting of delegates to the County Board on Tuesday evening, both sides have been conscious of the public debate that followed recent speculation in the media.

“SuperValu and Cork GAA remain committed to continuing their engagement, as both parties share a common interest in supporting Gaelic games across the county, and discussions are continuing.”

Meanwhile, the Irish Independent has said The Sportsground is set to become the next stadium to sell its naming rights.

Connacht Rugby, the stadium’s main tenant, is said to be close to agreeing a deal with DexCom, an American company that develops, manufactures, produces, and distributes continuous glucose monitoring systems for diabetes management.

DexCom is due to open its first European manufacturing site in Athenry in County Galway, with the Independent stating an announcement is due with Taoiseach Leo Varadkar expected to be in attendance on Friday as work begins on the site.

Kingspan to end Ulster Rugby association

In other naming rights news, Ulster Rugby has today announced that following over two decades of investment in the club, Kingspan has declared its intention to conclude its association on a phased-basis by June 2025.

With the current agreement for the naming rights of Kingspan Stadium and senior men’s shirt sponsorship due to conclude at the end of the 2023-24 season, the building materials company has agreed to remain on-board for a 12-month transitionary period to facilitate Ulster’s search for a new sponsor.

Ulster Rugby CEO, Jonny Petrie, said: “We extend our thanks to Kingspan for their long-term investment in Ulster Rugby over a number of years, which has allowed us to build a strong foundation for the club in the future.

“Kingspan has agreed to continue to support us through to June 2025 to allow for a seamless transition to a new sponsor, and we are now actively engaging in conversations with potential new partners for the end of next season onwards.”