Wednesday 22 November 2017

American Football is returning to Ireland with game at the Aviva next year

Penn State players hoist the Dan Rooney Trophy after defeating UCF in Croke Park Classic last year. Photo: Cody Glenn / SPORTSFILE
Penn State players hoist the Dan Rooney Trophy after defeating UCF in Croke Park Classic last year. Photo: Cody Glenn / SPORTSFILE

American Football is returning to Ireland after Taoiseach Enda Kenny today confirmed the Aviva Stadium will host a match in September 2016.

The clash between Boston College and Georgia Tech was originally planned for Croke Park but the GAA shelved that idea because of the falling value of the euro against the dollar.

The Aviva Stadium will host the event on September 3 next year – the day before the All Ireland hurling final – and is expected to bring in €24m to the Irish economy, according to Mr Kenny.

Aer Lingus have been named as the main sponsor while the match is expected to bring in 25,000 visitors from the States.

According to Dublin Chamber Chief Executive, Gina Quin: “Big sporting events provide a huge draw for prospective visitors. Given the huge Irish contingent living in the Boston region, this game might be a perfect reason for people to visit Ireland for the first time or to return for the first time in years.

"The game is also likely to generate considerable interest from American Football fans in the UK and around Europe, and will provide an excellent opportunity to show off what Ireland has to offer tourists and businesses alike.”

Ms Quin added: "Similar to exports, sports tourism has the capacity to generate much needed growth in Ireland’s economy. Dublin’s hospitality sector relies on major events, from international sports matches and festivals, to concerts and conferences. Going forward, continuing to secure unique events which are attractive to an international audience is essential if ambitious tourism growth targets are to be met."

This will be the third time in six years that Dublin has hosted a high-profile college American football game.

Ms Quin concluded: “Dublin is fast becoming known as the European home for college football. The game will be beamed by ESPN to millions of fans around the world, presenting a huge marketing opportunity for Dublin and the rest of the country. While businesses closest to the city centre usually report the greatest increase in sales for these sporting events, the long haul nature of the visitors means that many may head further out to the surrounding counties of Kildare, Wicklow, Meath and beyond.”

The 2014 Classic between University of Central Florida and Penn State caused controversy last August when it forced the replayed Kerry/Mayo All-Ireland semi-final out of Croke Park because of the clash of dates. The Kerry/Mayo match was played at the Gaelic Grounds in Limerick instead.

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