The iconic and cultured history of the National Stadium

When the discussion for Ireland’s best arenas comes into play, it seems that Dublin’s own National Stadium is often overlooked. It does not have the size, magnitude or even the fame of others such as the Helix, the 3 Arena or the Aviva, but is arguably far more historic and influential.

Opened in 1939, the National Stadium has hosted some of the greatest boxing and wrestling events of all time. Owned by the IABA (Irish Athletic Boxing Association), it has hosted some great boxing and professional wrestling events, with athletes such as Katie Taylor, Barry McGuigan, and Jordan Devlin all taking part in huge boxing and wrestling bouts, respectively.

The Stadium has also hosted some of the biggest musical acts of all time, with U2, Thin Lizzy, Johnny Cash and Led Zeppelin all having famous concerts there in the late 20th century.

With these names, it seems as if the Stadium could be perceived as an arena of the past, not as ‘modern’ as it once was. However, in today’s day and age, the Stadium is seeing more success than ever.

Off the heels of a great wrestling event on St Patrick’s weekend, named Scrappermania V, the National Stadium was sold out once more for the event. The 2,200 seat venue almost sold out, with an amazing atmosphere, the energy vibrating all around, from the stage to the floor and all around the various seating areas. The facilities and security were apt, with the vision of streamers previously being thrown in the main event match still etched in many fans’ memories.

On the 21st of April, the stadium hosted a Ringside Club event which holds around two hundred people; the atmosphere was just as lively and felt even more special. The smaller, yet still intense crowd were very involved in the show. The Ringside Club was a perfect venue to host a smaller wrestling event such as this.

Fans spoke about their thoughts on the Stadium as a venue; “Yeah, I’ve trekked down from Cavan to go to this (Contenders) and Scrappermania.” Naoise Deeney, 20, remarked. “The show itself was deadly, but the venue as well was really good. The production value was on another level, and the seating plans were really easy to follow.”

“I preferred this (The Ringside Club) to be honest, just the more cosy atmosphere with the bar only a few feet away. The venue as a whole is great, and one of the most memorable to attend”, she added.

Pop star Jessie J had nothing but compliments to give the venue. Hosting a show there last December, she remarked that she loved the ‘intimate’ feeling the venue had given her.  

“I don’t mean any disrespect by this because I’m enjoying it, but it feels like a school assembly with a huge budget. I literally feel like my Mom and Dad are in the audience and my teachers are here to grade me. The way I can run on this stage, I have no boundaries. I can go from one side to the other in three leg steps.”

The Stadium not only has a rich history, but has even richer ambitions. It has expanded into more musical acts, and its management recently started booking more artistic and perhaps even risky endeavours.

It was announced in November of last year that it was hosting the illustrious Elvis Presley tribute show, in aid of the Jack and Jill Children’s Foundation. The momentous event is going to be held in August, on the 65th anniversary of Presley’s passing.

Regardless of the direction the Stadium decides to go in, it will always be remembered as an incredibly historical and memorable venue for performers and audiences alike. It will continue that legacy for years to come.

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