Croke Park stadium manager Peter McKenna believes that Ireland is in with a good chance of hosting a National Football League (NFL) away fixture next year.
The NFL already hold one fixture at Wembley Stadium in London annually and after the success of the Notre Dame vs Navy game at the Aviva Stadium earlier this year, say that they would agree to another game in Ireland as part of the The Gathering 2012.
McKenna admitted that negotiations between the government, the Croke Park representatives, and the NFL reps went well mainly due to the aid of US ambassador Dan Rooney the owner of the Pittsburgh Steelers.
McKenna told the Sunday Times [Subscription] “Without Dan, we wouldn’t even have got as far as the doors he had to open for us.”
He continued, “We started working on this after we heard the NFL is holding two fixtures outside America next year. Normally they hold only one, and that’s in Wembley in London. We’re making a pitch for the second fixture to be played in Croke Park.
“We’ve spent some time with the NFL, we’ve shown them how the whole set-up works. It’s in their hands now.”
It’s estimated that 35,000 fans travelled from America to the game Notre Dame / Navy game at the Aviva Stadium.
“The college game allowed us to show the NFL how well Dublin can handle such a big sporting event, in terms of airport facilities, transport and accommodations,” McKenna said.
“You also need buy-in at a national level. You need to be able to show you can handle traffic restrictions in the city, things like that. That’s why the support of the Taoiseach [Prime Minister] has been vital.”
A representative from Enda Kenny’s office said this event is “something the government is interested in, and will be pursuing.”