Final touches at Aviva for the American revolution
AS the Tall Ships sail away, the Americans touch down.
Final preparations are being put in place for a single football game set to bring with it the greatest ever mass movement of American tourists into Ireland.
Fans of the Notre Dame and Navy American football teams were arriving at Dublin Airport this morning, 16 years since they faced each other in the 'Emerald Isle Classic' at Croke Park in 1996. And, as with everything American, nothing has been done by halves.
Aside from the arrival of around 35,000 Americans ahead of Saturday, the marquee event will see an injection of around €60m into the local economy, additional transatlantic flights and a bumper weekend for hotels, bars and businesses around the capital.
Yesterday, final touches were being put to the pitch which has been freshly laid following the recent Madonna concert.
The familiar single-stem goal posts have been erected and new pitch markings are being put down which will include the trademark colourful 'end zones'.
Because of the sheer size of the teams -- up to 100 players each, plus countless coaching and support staff -- the first seven rows of seats in the east and west stands will not be available as they would offer little visibility of the actual game.
"We had to kill about 2,000 seats so the stadium capacity is about 48,000 instead of 50,000," said explained a spokesman.
The historic grudge match between the two sides -- sold out since last March -- has only ever been played twice away from American soil, making this so much more than an exhibition game.
In the US alone, it has a potential audience of up to 115m people and up to 20m people across Europe.
That is a potentially huge boost to the Irish Gathering Ireland -- next year's event aiming to attract the Irish diaspora back to the country -- which is the title sponsor.