Ireland’s College Football Classic sell-out sees ‘world record number of Americans travelling for sporting event’

‘Week Zero’ event could pump €147m into Irish economy, organisers say

The Aer Lingus College Football Classic at the Aviva Stadium

Pól Ó Conghaile

Tickets for the 2023 Aer Lingus College Football Classic in the Aviva Stadium are fully sold out, organisers say.

The American football game, between Notre Dame and Navy, is scheduled to take place in Dublin on Saturday, August 26.

40,354 international fans will travel for the match, including 39,176 travelling direct from the US – a number described as “a new world record for the largest number of Americans to travel internationally for a single sporting event”.

The demand for tickets "proves that Ireland is the home of College Football outside of the US”, said Padriac O’Kane, co-founder and director of the Classic.

The College Football Classic is promoted and organised by Irish American Events Ltd, a joint venture between Irish hospitality and events specialists and its US partner, On Location.

The principal stakeholders are Aer Lingus, Fáilte Ireland, Tourism Ireland and Dublin City Council.

The 2022 Classic between Northwestern and Nebraska. Pic: INPHO/Laszlo Geczo

Minister for Tourism, Catherine Martin, said: "I am pleased to support the Series via funding from Fáilte Ireland and Tourism Ireland.

"The game in August will also provide opportunities for business, education and other sectoral exchanges between Ireland and US and will further strengthen the cultural, sporting and affinity links between our two countries”.

The fixture, Notre Dame’s first home game in Ireland, will pump €147m into the local economy, according to a report from Fáilte Ireland and Grant Thornton.

Data from previous College Football events held in Ireland indicates that American visitors will stay on average seven nights, and visit other destinations – the most popular being Dublin, Galway, Belfast, Killarney and Cork.

The game comes as Aer Lingus operates its largest ever transatlantic schedule, with 19 routes including a new service to Cleveland, Ohio, which took off last Friday.

Transatlantic bookings are up more than 20pc on 2019, the airline says.

The game between Notre Dame and Navy is the opening fixture of the 2023 College Football season, known as "Week Zero”. It will be broadcast on NBC in the US, and on Sky Sports for Irish and UK audiences.

The 2024 fixture will see Georgia Tech play Florida State.