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Lansdowne Roar to live on at Aviva

Updated: Friday, 14 May 2010 18:17

A fan's-eye view of the impressive Aviva Stadium Ray Houghton said he'd give up his Euro '88 goal against England to play in the opening game... Hmmm, Ray. We don't really believe you! The new stadium is even equipped with a dentist's chair just in case Gazza turns up for a charity fixture
A fan's-eye view of the impressive Aviva Stadium Ray Houghton said he'd give up his Euro '88 goal against England to play in the opening game... Hmmm, Ray. We don't really believe you! The new stadium is even equipped with a dentist's chair just in case Gazza turns up for a charity fixture

The old Lansdowne Road is gone but Irish sporting chiefs have vowed that it will not be forgotten.

At the official opening of the revamped ground, rugby and soccer fans were challenged to revive the infamous roar at the rebranded Aviva Stadium which sweeps across Dublin's skyline.

Sporting legends even revealed they wished they could turn back time and have a game at the spectacular new state of the art venue.

Former international footballer Ray Houghton said he would do anything to have played in the first game - and would consider giving up his historic goal against England.

'It was a great privilege and pleasure to play for Ireland and score that goal against England, but I'd give up a lot of that to play the first game here, that's for sure,' he said.

'It's a world-class facility and anyone who comes here will be overwhelmed. We're going to have some fantastic games and some fantastic memories in the future.'

The sun glistened on the newly-laid pitch as the Irish Rugby Football Union (IRFU) and the Football Association of Ireland (FAI) officially opened their new shared home on the site of Lansdowne's hallowed turf.

It took three years to remove the much-loved ground and replace it with a €410million 50,000-seater stadium.

The IRFU's Philip Browne said his hunt for a new home for Irish rugby and football began in 1994 - and brought him back to the the south side of Dublin.

He hopes the world-class piece of sporting infrastructure will stage the Heineken Cup final in 2013.

'It is a financial engine to drive the sport of rugby and soccer for the next 40 years,' he said.

'I've no concerns or qualms whatsoever about the capacity or the ability of this facility to do that for us.'

The breathtaking structure can be seen from across the city, with three high tiers towering over 3,000 seats in the ground level Havelock Square end.

With top-class facilities for fans - 650 toilets and 69 kiosks and bars serving up 1,000 pints - international players used to living in luxury will also feel at home.

The revamp, which took four million man hours and employed 6,000 people, boasts indoor grass-covered warm-up areas for both the home and away teams, a medical room with beds, a dentist chair, drug testing area and an x-ray, large dressing rooms with TV screens and a shower room with a hydrotherapy pool.

Up to 30,000 people are expected at the first fixture at the ground between a Connacht/Munster and Leinster/Ulster rugby selection on 31 July.

But a sell-out is expected when football giants Manchester United take on an Airtricity League selection on August 4, closely followed with an Irish international soccer game against Argentina.