A CONTENTIOUS proposal to auction off naming rights to Thomond Park has been resurrected by Munster Rugby bosses in order to keep pace with big-spending rivals in England and France.
A popular backlash led to the plans being shelved when first mooted in 2008.
And former Munster prop Gerry McLoughlin, for one, says the plan should remain on the shelf indefinitely.
“Money will come and go but Thomond Park will still be there. No amount of money is worth giving up that name and what it means to the people of Limerick,” said Cllr McLoughlin.
“It is the one thing during all the bad times that gave the city a boost.”
Those who attended the Munster agm last week were told that naming rights was one measure being examined to shore up the club’s finances. The branch has reported a deficit of just over €1 million for the year ending June 30, 2012.
Speaking after the meeting, Munster CEO Garrett Fitzgerald said: “The commercial board are constantly looking at options and the naming rights to Thomond Park is one of them”.
The fact that Munster’s Heineken Cup semi-final opponents Toulon have an annual budget five times greater than the Irish province’s has been cited as a reason why Munster could consider the unthinkable.
Watching the big game at Nancy Blake’s on Sunday was Munster fan John Finucane, from Dooradoyle.
“There’s a lot of talk about branding and I’ve heard Munster described in the last couple of days as a heritage brand, where the history and the tradition is what makes it unique.
“It’s something you can’t buy and naming it the Toyota Stadium, say, would obviously take from that sense of history,” said Mr Finucane. “On the other hand, fans more than anything want the team to be competitive and do well.”
Cllr McLoughlin, however, doesn’t expect every supporter to be sanguine on the proposal.
“Yes the world moves on but when it comes to Thomond Park, they should leave well enough alone. We fought it before and I think the same voices will come out and oppose it again,” he declared.