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Will the 9/11 ten year anniversary be Irish ambassador Dan Rooney’s swan song? Photo by: Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

Rooney backs Dublin’s bid to stage NFL game after delegation’s Croke Park visit

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Will the 9/11 ten year anniversary be Irish ambassador Dan Rooney’s swan song? Photo by: Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

Pittsburgh Steelers owner Dan Rooney has expressed his confidence that a regular NFL game will be played in Dublin’s Croke Park within the next two years.

Rooney, also the American ambassador to Ireland, has told radio station Newstalk that NFL officials left for home with a very favourable impression after a flying visit to Dublin.

The visited the Croke Park home of the GAA as the association looks to host an NFL game in 2012 or 2013, a fixture that is potentially worth $70million to the troubled Irish economy.

Frankfurt’s Commerzbank-Arena, the Olympic stadium in Munich and Murrayfield in Edinburgh have also received the NFL delegation in recent days as they look to stage a game in Europe – but not in London – next year.

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“They were very impressed,” Rooney told Newstalk’s ‘Off the Ball’ programme when asked about the NFL visit last weekend.

“I did talk with them and they thought the stadium was excellent and that the professionalism and management of Croke Park was good and that they could work with that as well as anywhere.”
Rooney also revealed that his Steelers are contractually prohibited from playing a ‘home’ game in Dublin but he is open to an ‘away’ fixture in the Irish capital.

“The league does want it to be successful, so they would try to pick teams that would generate interest,” said Rooney.

“I think the Steelers would generate more interest here, but I’m a little biased. There are a number of clubs in the NFL that are willing to give up home games. So that wouldn’t be too major a stumbling block.”

Croke Park is expected to be full to its 82,000 capacity when Notre Dame face Navy at Lansdowne Road next September.

“The commissioner of the NFL is an Irishman and you have me and a lot of other Irish guys involved in NFL teams,” added Rooney.

“And here you have a great stadium and a great city that people want to come too. And the Irish get up for a big event, especially sporting events, so there have been a lot of plusses without question.”

Croke Park Stadium director Peter McKenna hopes to get an answer from the NFL by early February.

“We have to have our submission in by December 16,” said McKenna. “It’s a joint effort between Dublin Tourism, Dublin City Council and the GAA, a sport, city, state venture.

“We were very happy with our presentation and we’d expect to hear the outcome around Superbowl time, February 5th. It very much depends if the NFL are going to expand beyond London and whether that happens in 2012 or 2013.”

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