A leading Sports Tourism expert has described Nowlan Park as the ‘dark horse’ in Ireland’s 2023 Rugby World Cup bid.
W2 Counsulting Director Mark O’Connell, speaking prior to the European Sport Tourism Summit in Limerick on May 16 described Kilkenny as ideally located for a Rugby World Cup bid and that Nowlan Park would be a perfect venue for some of the games.
“Nowlan Park, although it took a battering recently from the storms, is one of the dark horses for the Rugby World Cup bid. The Stadium has undergone a lot of development over recent years and more is to follow. But because of its location, virtually in the centre of the city, and with Kilkenny so accessible through road and rail, as well as having a really excellent stock of quality accommodation, it will have strong claims,”said Mr O’Connell.
Within a year, the capacity at Nowlan Park will reach 25,000 and the home of Kilkenny hurling may host some rugby games as Ireland bids for the tournament to be held here in 2023.
Chairman of Kilkenny GAA, Ned Quinn said that at present Nowlan Park is not on the GAAs list for consideration in relation to the bid but that ongoing developments would ensure the stadium is strongly considered, and he added that he would welcome any discussions on the matter.
And it’s not just Nowlan Park that sets Kilkenny apart, according to Mr O’Connell - “Kilkenny is one of the counties best placed to capitalise on the growth in the industry. It already has a strong sport tourism offering thanks to activities and events like Tri Grand Prix-Kilkenny Triathlon and the Kilkenny Duathlon series at Kilkenny castle. It’s got great natural infrastructure with the River Nore flowing right through it and, more importantly, through Kilkenny City. This gives the city and county great options for water-based sport tourism activities like fishing and kayaking and the county has excellent off-road walking as well as cycling opportunities,” he added.
Sports Tourism generates €450 bn globally “Sports Tourism is huge business and it’s getting bigger and bigger. Research has shown that sports tourist spend double the amount that traditional tourists do and this is a huge opportunity for sports organisations, to capitalise on. Overall, Kilkenny has an excellent platform from which to build a quality sports tourism product, which would deliver significant additional revenue for the city and county,” said Mr. O’Connell.
The European Sports Summitt takes place on Thursday, May 15, click www.sporttourismsummit.ie for further details.