Semple StadiumEdit profile
Semple Stadium, located in Thurles, County Tipperary, Ireland, is the home of hurling for Tipperary and for the larger Munster area. It is the second largest stadium in Ireland with a capacity of 53,500. Over the decades since 1926, it has established itself as the 'Mecca' for Munster hurling followers, hosting the Munster Hurling Final on many memorable occasions.
The main or ' Old Stand' of the ground (also known as the 'Ardan O Coinneain') lies across from the ' New Stand' (also known as the 'Ardan O Riain') both of which are covered. Behind the goals are two uncovered terraces known as the ' Town End' and the ' Killinan End' respectively.
The grounds on which Semple Stadium is built were formerly known as Thurles Sportsfield. The site was offered for sale in 1910 at the wish of Canon M.K. Ryan and was purchased by local gaelic games enthusiasts for £900. To meet the cost of the purchase, an issue of shares was subscribed by the townspeople. The grounds remained in the hands of the shareholders until 1956 when they were transferred to the Gaelic Athletic Association. In 1934 in anticipation of the All-Ireland Hurling Final being held in the grounds in commemoration of the golden jubilee of the association, extensive improvements were made to bring the field requirements up to the demands which a crowd of up to 60,000 would make. The embankments around the field were raised and extended and the stand accommodation was also extended. However, the jubilee final was held in Croke Park and it was another 50 years before the Stadium would host the long-awaited All-Ireland final as a showpiece to mark the centenary. In 1968, further developments took place when the Dr Kinane Stand was completed and opened. In 1971 the stadium was named after Tom Semple, famed captain of the Thurles "Blues". He won All-Ireland Senior Hurling Championship medals in 1900, 1906 and 1908. The "Ardan O Riain" opposite the Kinane Stand and the terracing at the town end of the field was completed in 1981 at a cost of £500,000. This development and the terracing at the Killinan end of the field were part of a major improvement scheme for the celebration of the centenary All-Ireland Hurling Final between Cork and Offaly in 1984. Recently, an architectural consultancy has been appointed to lead a design team, tasked with preparing a Masterplan for the redevelopment of Semple Stadium. Currently the stadium has a capacity of 53,500, of which 36,000 are seated, but with limited facilities for additional use by spectators.
In April 2006, Tipperary County Board announced an €18 million redevelopment plan for the Stadium. The three-year project aimed to boost attendances to over 55,000, as well as providing a wide range of modern facilities such as corporate space concessions, dining and changing areas within both main stands. Proposals will also be made for upgrading the present standing terraces and provide for the installation of a modern floodlighting facility. Phase one of the upgrade project, upgrading the Kinnane Stand side of the stadium, involved expenditure of €5.5 million. On 14 February, 2009, the new state of the art floodlights were officially switched on by GAA president Nickey Brennan before the National Hurling League game against Cork.
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