Monday 5 December 2016

State misses out on €30m as GAA calls time out on Croker classic

Sam Griffin

Published 24/04/2015 | 02:30

The Penn State University cheerleaders and Blue Band Pep Band at The chq Building to publicise last year’s game at Croke Park.
The Penn State University cheerleaders and Blue Band Pep Band at The chq Building to publicise last year’s game at Croke Park.

The country is set to miss out on a €30m boost to the economy after the GAA announced an American college football match will not go ahead next year because the event has not received government support.

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Last year's 'Croke Park Classic', between Penn State and the University of Central Florida, attracted nearly 50,000 spectators, with more than 22,000 visitors from the US travelling to Ireland in August.

Plans were underway to stage the event again in 2016, with Boston College and Georgia Tech set to take to the Croke Park turf.

However, due to the challenging exchange rate the plans hinged on the Government investing in the event, with the GAA looking for somewhere between €500,000 and €750,000 in state funding.

But last night, the GAA said it would not be hosting the event in 2016.

"The GAA stated that the strength of the dollar against the euro means that the staging of the game at Croke Park was no longer viable for the Association without significant support from government agencies," a spokesperson said.

Read more: GAA scrap plans for Croke Park American Football match

It's understood the event just about broke even last year with considerable costs associated with bringing the two sides to Dublin.

In January 2014, then Transport, Tourism and Sport minister Leo Varadkar said the game was "a priority". However it did not receive any state funding.

A spokesperson for the department said there are "many different competing priorities" and said the initiatives like the Wild Atlantic Way and 'Ireland's Ancient East' were being prioritised for the future.

Fianna Fáil tourism spokesperson Timmy Dooley said the Government should come up with "additional resources for events of this nature".

The Restaurants Association of Ireland and retail group DublinTown said the event was "a big loss" but added they hoped the event could be saved before 2016.

Irish Independent

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