A day full of site visits, our group went to three companies today including Croke Park Stadium, the Irish Times, and Davy’s Stock Brokers. Today was one of my favorite days on the trip by far because I felt very connected to the companies we visited and Dublin as a whole today.
Our first visit, and the location that resonated with me the most, was Croke Park Stadium. Hurling and Irish football are two major sports within Ireland that sum up most of their culture. Men and women both can play and practically every Irish citizen has some tie to the sports. If you play either of these sports you don’t choose your team, but rather you play for the county you are from. There were dozens of county groups that had leagues in both of the sports, all of which have the opportunity to make it to the finals. Croke Park is the host location for the final rounds of these sports, which is said to have sold out seats for most of the semi-final and final rounds. Often it is extremely difficult to get tickets because it is similar to the popularity of the Super Bowl. What is incredibly admirable about their organization and the nature of the game is that is it volunteer based. No players or coaches receive any pay, even the Stadium is not profit oriented. Their mission statement included “A community-based volunteer organization promoting games, culture, and lifelong participation”. Everyone plays for fun and to represent their county. The community loyalty reminded me very much of the Pittsburgh dynamic and focus on neighborhoods.
Walking into the stadium, I could feel the magnitude that the community and culture behind the sport held for the Irish. I was completely fascinated. Another interesting part of the stadium is how much they value that cultural magnitude as well. When asked if they could ever see impactful branding from other companies, our tour guide said he understands the small advertising but does not believe there will be anything major in the future. For example, he does not believe it could ever be Coca-Cola Stadium; their organization has too much value for their name and the essence of the game to sell themselves out in that sense. This related back to what we learned about social enterprises and not-for-profit organizations in class. Croke Park is very devoted to their objectives, morals, and mission statement to maintain the integrity of their organization. They have also found alternative ways to make money to keep their business alive, including renting the facilities and yoga in their stadium.
Between the three companies, Croke Park related with me the most through their mission and through lessons in class. The company tours today gave an interesting look on Ireland and their work culture, I hope the following company visits will have the same impact.