Munster Rugby have said that they are open to the prospect of a long-term ground sharing arrangement with Cork City football club at Musgrave Park.
The First Division side are set to play pre-season friendlies at Musgrave Park on February 4 against Shamrock Rovers and February 18 versus Sligo Rovers while their own grounds at Turners Cross are being renovated. Both sides have confirmed the prospect of Cork City playing home matches at the rugby stadium is on the table and talks have already taken place on the issue.
Munster Rugby are planning the redevelopment of Musgrave Park hoping to increase the capacity from its current 8,500 to between 18 and 22,000. They need to raise €8m to replace the existing stand with a state-of-the-art facility that would house branch offices, dressing-rooms and increase the capacity to 12,500.
“We would certainly be open to the prospect of more discussions with Cork City, in the event that the stadium gets redeveloped,” said Munster sales and marketing manager, Glyn Billinghurst. “Munster had exploratory talks with Cork City and other sporting bodies about the matter when initial development plans were being drawn up and there are numerous examples of successful municipal stadiums around Europe.
“However, for the time being, the plan does not stretch beyond two pre-season friendlies, that will not interfere with existing All-Ireland League fixtures, and we are currently concentrating on raising funds for the redevelopment of the stand. Although we would have to factor in the All-Ireland League matches played at Musgrave Park, we would be open to any discussion that would help us develop a new facility for the city.”
Cork City say they are looking forward to playing next month’s friendlies at the ground and would be open to the prospect of strengthening the partnership going forward:
“We’re very appreciative of Munster allowing us to play two friendlies in Musgrave Park. Our meetings with Munster Rugby have gone very well and we hope it is a relationship that would grow in the future,” said Cork City spokesperson Eanna Buckley.
“We don’t know at this stage how far the relationship with Munster is going to take, but we are certainly open to increased co-operation.”