A SHOWPIECE American football clash to be held in Dublin this autumn will guarantee a €23m boost to the hospitality industry.
About 40,000 Americans are now expected to travel to Ireland for the weekend of September 1 -- meaning it will rank alongside the Ryder Cup and the Special Olympics in terms of tourist draw.
It is far more than the 25,000 that had been predicted to travel for the Aviva Stadium clash between college football rivals Notre Dame and Navy.
The city's hotels have long been booked out for the weekend and organisers have resorted to appealing for landlords to make private apartments available for short lets. Tourists will pay about €360 for a two-bed apartment for two nights.
Karen Mulvaney of The Buyers Agent, a property-sourcing company, said the supply of short lets has already run out.
"The hotels have been booked out for a long time and now the short lets are all gone. We're looking for apartments in south Dublin areas for the most part."
Kate Nolan of Notre Dame has been working on finding accommodation for the forthcoming tourist invasion.
"We knew it would be popular, but we never imagined we'd have so many coming over. We were initially worried about finding accommodation for our travellers in Dublin but we are now looking as far away as Athlone to get them housed."
According to Notre Dame, 30,000 tickets have already been sold to its US-based supporters, while a further 5,000 have been bought by those on the Navy side.
Even though the American College League fixture is now sold out, the college also expects another 5,000 ticketless enthusiasts to travel here to attend the parties and side events which will accompany the game.
Meanwhile, Failte Ireland is to capitalise on the numbers by launching this year's internationally targeted 'The Gathering' event on the same weekend.
"We couldn't miss out on this opportunity given that this event will be watched by tens of millions of Americans on live television and by many more around the world. They'll also be showing clips of the city. It's a great chance to sell Dublin and Ireland," said a spokesman yesterday.
In the US, Notre Dame has sold out its 80,000-seater stadium for every single game since 1971. The Indiana university is regarded as 'Catholic Harvard' and traditionally the top Catholic university in the United States. For that reason it has always been popular with wealthy Irish-Americans, hence its famous sobriquet 'The Fighting Irish'.
Among the entourage will be a squad of cheerleaders and a 200-strong college brass band.