Oxegen cancellation could hit local jobs

MANAGEMENT at Punchestown Racecourse remain confident that the annual Oxegen concert will go ahead in 2013.

MANAGEMENT at Punchestown Racecourse remain confident that the annual Oxegen concert will go ahead in 2013.

Recent speculation that the event would not go ahead next year was confirmed in a brief statement issued by promoters MCD this (Wednesday) morning.

“Oxegen, like Glastonbury, is taking a year off in 2012 and will be back in 2013. Wishing everyone a very happy Christmas and New Year. Keep rockin’ in 2012 and we will see you in 2013,” the three sentence statement read.

Racecourse management say the loss of the concert next year is a blow.

But Commercial Manager Liam Holton added: “National Hunt racing is what Punchestown is really about and so far we are having a fantastic season. As well as that, we are looking forward to a very successful Festival meeting next year.”

Speaking to the Leader, Mr. Holton declined to say how much revenue the concert generates for Punchestown, citing commercial reasons but he said the news will have a detrimental impact on the local economy.

“The concert is worth about E30m to the local economy and this news will have impact on businesses such as pubs, restaurants, guesthouses and hotels. It could lead to a loss of jobs in the area and the concert brings in between and 8,000 and 10,000 people from abroad, mainly the UK,” stated Mr. Holton.

He further pointed out that there will be a loss of income for local sports and clubs, community organisations and charity groups – including Naas, Ballymore and Eadestown GAA clubs, who provided stewards for the festival. Just last month, E70,000 was donated to local organisations from concert promoters MCD as a gesture of gratitude for the community’s involvement with Oxegen. Naas’ St Vincent De Paul received a cheque for E15,000. Naas Na Riogh Community Centre, Naas Care of the Aged and the Jack and Jill Foundation were also among the beneficiaries.

However Mr Holton remains optimistic about the future of the racecourse.

“Punchestown has been around since 1823 and while this is a blow, early interest in our major horseracing event bodes well and there are not many doubts about our economic viability . This area has shown it is well capable of hosting major events like Oxegen.”

Punchestown Racing Manager Richie Galway added that, while this morning’s announcement was not completely unexpected, it is still sad news for all at the Kildare venue.

“We have had 15 concerts here in 12 years and the biggest and best pop acts have played here. It is an established venue on the world stage,” he said. However he admitted that “Oxegen 2011 was probably a harder sell for MCD than some of the previous years.”

It’s understood the reason behind the decision is the fact that MCD is promoting a Stone Roses in concert at the Phoenix Park in early July. The Irish soccer team’s qualification for the European Championships and the staging of the Olympic Games in London next summer may also have been a factor, as sports’ fans opt to travel to these events instead of going to a festival.

Mr Galway said that Punchestown management will “look at all options” before deciding whether to stage a replacement event or number of events.