Saturday 25 November 2017

€24m boost for tourism as American football set for the Aviva

Taoiseach Enda Kenny and US Ambassador Kevin O’Malley at the launch of the 2016 Aer Lingus College Football Classic between Boston College and Georgia Tech in the Aviva
Taoiseach Enda Kenny and US Ambassador Kevin O’Malley at the launch of the 2016 Aer Lingus College Football Classic between Boston College and Georgia Tech in the Aviva
John Downing

John Downing

The third major American football classic in five years will bring a €24m tourism boost to Ireland.

On Saturday September 3, 2016, Boston College will take on Georgia Tech at what is likely to be a sell-out game in the Aviva Stadium in Dublin.

The GAA previously announced it had shelved plans for a 2016 game but now the fixture will head to the home of Irish rugby and football.

Some 25,000 visitors are expected from the USA along with gridiron enthusiasts from Britain and Europe.

Organisers say that it is hoped the games can be organised every two years into the future. Aer Lingus have come on board as a major sponsor.

“American college football is making not just a name, but a second home for itself in Ireland,” Taoiseach Enda Kenny said at a function attended by the US Ambassador to Ireland, Kevin O’Malley.

The president of Boston College, Fr William Leahy SJ, addressed the Dublin launch by video link. A similar launch in Boston was presided over by Mayor Marty Walsh.

Mr Kenny noted that Boston College were involved in the first major game in Ireland back in 1988.

Since then the American game had provided some high-profile thrills, with Central Florida and Penn State playing in Croke Park last year, and Naval Academy against Notre Dame in 2012.

Niall Gibbons, CEO of Tourism Ireland, said the game was a breakthrough for the business and highlighted the importance of sports travel. He predicted that 25,000 visitors will travel to Ireland for the event and visit many parts of the country outside Dublin.

Gina Quinn of Dublin Chamber of Commerce said that the match would be worth an estimated €24m to the economy. She said that adjoining counties around Dublin, notably Wicklow, Kildare, Meath and Louth will benefit considerably.

Ms Quinn said Dublin’s hospitality sector relies on international sports matches, festivals, concerts and conferences.

Irish Independent

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