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American Dream

Top NFL delegate gives Croker the thumbs-up

American football bosses reveal that they were “very impressed” on their visit to Jones Road last week.

DUBLIN’S BID TO host a regular-season American football game has been given a huge boost after a top delegate revealed just how impressed he was by Croke Park’s offering.

A team of high-ranking officials visited Jones Road last week as part of a whistle-stop tour to scout out European venues for a second overseas match on the NFL calendar.

Chris Parsons, the NFL’s Vice-President of International Business and leader of the delegation which landed in Dublin last week, told this evening that GAA Headquarters has emerged as a very strong contender.

“We were impressed,” Parsons said.

They did a very nice job of hosting us and showing us what they were capable of providing for our game. The stadium has many of the elements we need to host a successful game.

The next step in the process, Parsons added, is for Croke Park to finalise its formal bid document which is expected to be submitted by the end of next week.

After seeing how well games at London’s Wembley Stadium have gone, NFL chiefs are looking to bring their franchise to another major European city.

Dublin has frequently been touted as a candidate thanks to the very vocal support of American ambassador and Pittsburgh Steelers owner Dan Rooney.

But the city faces strong competition from a number of other venues around Europe, not least Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium which hosted the same NFL delegation last Wednesday.

“[The] Welsh stadium and its approach was also very impressive,” Parsons noted.

Speaking to Newstalk’s Off the Ball on Tuesday night, Rooney said that the Dublin bid had really made a strong case for themselves.

“They [the NFL] thought that the stadium itself was excellent and the professional manner in which is run impresses them,” he said.

Nothing is definite yet, but they thought it would be very very good to do come to Dublin – It’s a great stadium and a great city that people want to come to.

Rooney claimed it would most likely be March before a decision was finalised but made no secret of his desire to see the Steelers in Dublin.

“I would like it to be the Steelers. The league does want it to be a success and I think the Steelers would generate more interest here than anywhere else.”

However, he added that it would have to be an away game as it is written into the club’s contract that they must play every game in the city.

“There are a number of clubs who would be willing to give up a game and I don’t think that would be a major stumbling block,” he added.

– Additional reporting by Ben Blake

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