The Aviva Stadium, the new jewel in the crown of the Irish sporting landscape, was officially opened on Friday.
The deluxe all mod 50,000 capacity stadium took three years and €410 ($507) million to build, but politicians and sports stars who were present were hugely complimentary about the job done.
“ ( The Aviva stadium) represents the past and the future, precious memories of moments of great drama and glory, and the hope of even greater sporting moments yet to come, “ said Taoiseach Brian Cowen.
“As a venue for important football and rugby matches, as well as concerts and conferences, it will attract tens of thousands of tourists and, following on from the opening of the Grand Canal Theatre, represents another feather in the cap of our capital city,” he added.
The Irish soccer and rugby teams will now have their own permanent home after spending the past few years at Cork Park while the stadium was being built.
“We’re absolutely satisfied with the decisions we’ve made and feel the capacity of 50,000 is bang-in for us in rugby. We did struggle sometimes to fill Croke Park, and I can say now without any hesitation that this is the engine that will drive the sport for the next 40 years,” said IRFU chief executive Philip Browne.
FAI Chief Executive John Delaney called the opening “a proud day” and said that the structure was something that Irish soccer has needed for nearly 90 years.
An interprovincial rugby match will be held at the venue on July 31 between a squad from Ulster/Leinster against a Munster/Connacht selection. The first international will feature Ireland against South Africa on November 6.
Manchester United will baptize the ground in soccer terms when the Premier League team takes on an Airtricity League selection on August 4, followed a week later by the first soccer international between Ireland and Argentina on August 11.