In three weeks, the Croke Park Classic will host American college football teams Penn State and University of Central Florida for what will be both teams’ first game outside of the US.
An extensive schedule of events surrounding the match has been announced, and with an expected 20,000 tourists arriving (16,000 from the US and 4,000 from elsewhere in Europe), the Dublin economy will be receiving an estimated $40 million (€30 million) boost.
“We estimate that people will stay here for about five days, they’ll spend about $400, total that’s a $40 million injection into Dublin - apart from the other $47,000 that will come from across the country,” Croke Park stadium director Peter McKenna told the Irish Independent.
A full day’s worth of entertainment is planned for the August 30 match, like parachute jumps, performances by The Dublin Gospel Choir, the Penn State marching band, tailgates, cheerleaders and mascots for both teams.
A wide array of events are taking place before game day as well – pep rallies in Temple Bar for both colleges, a UNESCO Symposium on youth leadership through sport, a conference held by the American Irish Business Forum on trade between Florida, Pennsylvania and Ireland, and more.
There have been long time rumors of the NFL coming to play in Croke Park in the near future, but McKenna believes the league will be focusing on London as their overseas capital instead.
“We want to be the overseas capital for college football,” he told The Score. “It is the opening weekend of the college football season so the game will get huge coverage on ESPN because we are the only game at that time slot.”
There have been recent objections to the chosen date, as it is the day before the All-Ireland football semi final. McKenna and the GAA proposed the date for the benefit of the American teams, as it falls just before an American bank holiday, meaning the college footballers will spend less time missing class due to travel.
“This is the weekend we will be encouraging teams to come here because we want to establish a series where there is a game here every other year,” he said.
“It’s a wonderful platform to showcase what Ireland has to offer to the many tourists who are over for the game and all those watching on television around the world.
“I am certainly looking forward to what promises to be an excellent buildup followed by a superb spectacle to Croke Park,” he said.
Tickets for the event are on sale through Ticketmaster.ie.