Croke Park recognised as the first Age Friendly Stadium in the World
Croke Park Stadium has been formally recognised as being Age Friendly by the World Health Organisation Global Network of Age Friendly Cities and Communities and Age Friendly Ireland.
This designation comes after the stadium undertook a process of change to ensure that older people can continue to enjoy the facility, regardless of how their needs change across the course of their lives.
This is seen as a significant step in preparing for population ageing. As people are living longer, a very welcome development, there will be increasing numbers of older people in society in years to come.
The 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.
Older people are also valued members of the stadium’s workplace and volunteer workforce. Actions are also being implemented across the wider GAA community to ensure that older people continue to feel included in the life of the community.
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.”
Today’s announcement was also welcomed by the World Health Organisation.
Alana Officer, Unit Head, Demographic Change and Healthy Ageing at the WHO added: “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”.
Age Friendly Ireland has a vision in Ireland that every city, county, village is age friendly, meaning people of all ages can actively participate in their communities and are treated with respect, regardless of age.
To create environments that are truly age friendly requires action from all public and private sectors.
This is a local government led programme working in partnership with other key service providers. Collaboration is key to successfully creating an Age Friendly Ireland and Croke Park is a stellar example of what can be achieved through cooperation and collaboration.
Catherine McGuigan, Chief Officer, Age Friendly Ireland Shared Service, Meath County Council added: “ Croke Park is to be commended for being the first stadium internationally to undergo a formal process to achieve Age Friendly recognition.
“Developing Croke Park as an Age Friendly Stadium has involved an extensive programme of work over several years. The stadium management and staff have worked with Age Friendly Ireland in relation to aspects of the built environment, the service provided to patrons, information and communication and wider community engagement.
“Most importantly, listening to the voice of older people has been at the heart of this process. In achieving Age Friendly recognition, the stadium is appropriately preparing the ground for future generations, ensuring that all age groups can continue to enjoy the atmosphere and environment of Croke Park for generations to come.”
The inclusive developments in Croke Park Stadium will benefit not only GAA patrons from every county, but also the wide cross section of Irish society who attend conferences and events in the stadium throughout the year.
The process has been a method of ‘future proofing’ Ireland’s largest venue for generations to come, offering added value to the service provide by Croke Park.
In tandem with the stadium receiving its official recognition, today’s ceremony also launched Age Friendly Ambassador roles in every local authority in Ireland.
These high profile personalities were invited to represent the national programme, recognising their contribution to Irish society on behalf of older people.