McKenna plays down talk of Croke Park gridiron clash
Published 28/01/2011 | 05:00
Croke Park stadium director Peter McKenna insisted last night that no approach has been made to the NFL regarding a Croke Park date for one of its regular-season games in 2011/12.
According to the USA-based 'Irish Echo' newspaper, "some groundwork" has been made in getting Pittsburgh Steelers to come to Dublin for one of their games next season.
The Steelers take part in Superbowl XLV against Green Bay Packers on Sunday week having claimed a championship win over New York Jets last weekend.
The connection between the Steelers and Ireland is hardened by the fact that the family of the US ambassador to Ireland, Dan Rooney, own the Steelers franchise.
The 'Irish Echo' quotes a spokesperson of the outgoing Minister for Arts, Sports and Tourism Mary Hanafin as welcoming the move.
And one of the leading Steelers players, quarter-back Ben Roethlisberger, is also quoted as welcoming a possible trip "to where Ambassador Rooney is."
But Croke Park are not aware of any concrete approach being made and McKenna said last night that such a move remains "an aspiration."
"Obviously we'd like it to happen but we are not aware of any approach being made, formal or otherwise, recently," said McKenna.
"We have been in touch with the Department to see if they would support us on such a venture."
A Pittsburgh NFL game in Dublin has been floated before and it is understood that discussions took place between the Rooney family and the GAA about such a prospect.
Croke Park has a history of hosting US sports, from baseball, in a game involving teams of American servicemen shortly after the war, to the Steelers and Chicago Bears American Bowl game in 1997.
In 1996 Notre Dame played Navy in Croke Park but the hosting of a full NFL game would bring coverage to a different level.
The NFL has taken games to London for the last four years and that has naturally provoked a suggestion that Dublin and Croke Park could be on the cards yet -- especially now as Croke Park's revenues will see quite a dip when the accounts are produced in March due to the absence of international rugby and soccer games in the second half of the year.