Come back soon – that was the message from a grateful Irish tourism industry to the American football fans who ensured Christmas came early this year.
One Dublin hotelier described the Emerald Classic Invasion by Notre Dame and Navy fans as a "return to the boom times."
And the Sunday Independent reports that city traders would gladly welcome the college season opener every September after a $150 million windfall.
As 50,000 fans celebrated Notre Dame’s big win over their fierce rivals, one Temple Bar pub owner told the paper: “Look around, sure where would you get it? It’s the boom time all over again.”
Edward Sweeney, manager of the Morgan Hotel, spoke of his delight after high-end Americans booked the hotel out for the weekend and spent their way through their trip to Dublin.
Sweeney told the paper: “Every room has been booked out, the last few filled up very quickly last night. They’re throwing parties in the Penthouse and at the bar last night we sold three bottles of 12-year-old whiskey. To put it into perspective, we’d usually sell half a bottle a year at $32 a shot. It’s incredible.”
Morgan Hotel owner Paul Fitzpatrick expects many of the fans who invaded the City to return, some of them for The Gathering festival next year.
Notre Dame were last in Dublin 16 years ago.
Fitzpatrick said: “The fans are talking about a New Ireland.
“They can’t get over the changes since they’ve been here 10-odd years ago. They’re really impressed with the infrastructure, transport, services. We’re going to get a lot of return business on the back of this over the next few years. It’s been superb for the economy.”
The hotel industry was counting the cash after the bumper weekend brightened up a very dull summer.
A spokesman for the Irish Hotel Federation said: “This weekend’s activities have been a tremendous boost to tourism and the city.
“Based on the previous occasion when an event like this was held, we have seen a 30 percent increase.
“Return US visitors are definitely one of our key markets.”
The Sunday Independent also reports how the Americans were quick to flash the cash.
The report said: “On Friday night, in Dandelion nightclub, a group of uber-wealthy American businessmen took over the VIP section where they popped open bottle after bottle of Dom Perignon at €250 each time.
“Expensive drinks flowed in the chic reserved area as the pretty hostess explained how several of the clientele had flown in on private jets to ‘party like the Irish’ before jetting out again straight after the game.”
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