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European Tour chiefs excited by Royal County Down potential

First Minister Peter Robinson, George OGrady, Chief Executive of The European Tour, Enterprise Minister Arlene Foster, Dr Peter Brown, Captain of Royal County Down and Alan Clarke, Chief executive at Northern Ireland Tourist Board

First Minister Peter Robinson, George OGrady, Chief Executive of The European Tour, Enterprise Minister Arlene Foster, Dr Peter Brown, Captain of Royal County Down and Alan Clarke, Chief executive at Northern Ireland Tourist Board

  • by Paul Kelly
 

European Tour officials are confident Royal County Down can accommodate the large crowds that are expected to descend on the venue next May for the Irish Open.

When the Walker Cup was held at RCD in 2007, spectator numbers were kept below 10,000 a day, but yesterday European Tour Chief Executive George O’Grady expressed his view that 20,000 a day should be “no problem”.

The 2012 staging of the Irish Open at Royal Portrush broke box-office records with more than 130,000 people attending over the course of the week. Those remarkable figures are unlikely to matched at Royal County Down with Championship Director, Antonia Beggs, indicating that spectator numbers could well be ‘capped’.

“The challenge is to make sure the staging enhances the beauty of the golf course. That is what I am focusing on now but I think we can fit in quite a few people here,” said Beggs.

“We will be building more grandstands than we did at Royal Portrush.

I would love to see quite a few more seats on the golf course, it helps with the movement of the crowds.

“And we would also envisage this potentially becoming all ticket because we will cap the numbers which is something we would potentially not do at other venues. We want to protect the course.”

The Irish Open will be held at Royal County Down from May 28-31, 2015 and in 2017 at The Lough Erne resort.

 

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