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Could Ireland host a college American football game in 2016 after all?

The42 understands efforts are underway to ensure a game goes ahead.

Notre Dame played in the Aviva in 2012.
Notre Dame played in the Aviva in 2012.
Image: Cathal Noonan/INPHO

Updated at 2.05pm.

DESPITE THE CANCELLATION of the Croke Park Classic last week, Ireland could still host a college American football game in 2016.

The42 understands a group of stakeholders, including at least one company involved in both the 2012 and 2014 games here, are attempting to secure the funding — believed to be in the region of €4.5 million – necessary to make the game between Boston College and Georgia Tech feasible.

However, were the game to go ahead, it would be played in the Aviva Stadium, home of the Emerald Isle Classic between Notre Dame and Navy, and not GAA headquarters as originally planned.

While it is not believed that any of the corporate stakeholders in the Aviva Stadium — namely the FAI and IRFU — are involved in the deal, we understand the venue has been approached about its availability for rental purposes.

A spokesperson for the stadium told The42 this afternoon:

“Aviva Stadium hosted the Navy v Notre Dame game in 2012.  It was a very successful event which made a considerable financial contribution to the economy.  Aviva Stadium remains interested in hosting American Football in the future.”

It is also understood the date of the game — which was due to take place mid-season — is instead provisionally pencilled in for the day before the All-Ireland hurling final, the opening weekend of the college football season in 2016.

The timing of the game to suit a US TV audience is an obvious potential stumbling block to any deal with thousands of American tourists descending on Dublin and looking for hotel rooms on one of the busiest weekends on the Irish sporting calendar.

Another is genuine concern over the number of US fans who are willing to travel and attend the game, particularly fans of the designated home team Boston College who ranked just 64th in attendance last season. While the average number of people attending college football games in the US in 2014 was 43,483, Boston College’s home crowd averaged 34,270.

While that is comparable to last year’s Croke Park Classic home team UCF (37,978), that event was bolstered by a large number of travelling Penn State fans but the estimated 20,000 visitors was still significantly down on the 35,000 who reportedly travelled for the Notre Dame game.

One of those believed to be heavily involved in the negotiations is corporate.ie, an events management company with links to both the Croke Park Classic and the Emerald Isle Classic. A spokesperson told The42:

“As someone who is involved in the tourism and hospitality industry, I along with others continue to look at every option and opportunity to bring another high profile College Football [game] to Ireland as soon as is feasibly possible, if it can be 2016 all the better!”

A spokesperson for Georgia Tech told us they would not comment on any speculation as it was “a home game from Boston College”. However, as they did when we broke the news of the original Croke Park game, Boston College have refused to comment.

Originally published at 11.55am.

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Steve O'Rourke

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