College FB returns to a new stage | Kingman Miner Daily
DUBLIN — College football has been around the world since Ireland first hosted a game more than 30 years ago, with venues as disparate as Tokyo and Toronto hosting games.
The Aussies loved the touchdowns and the halftime showdowns, not to mention the hot dogs and the beer, the last of which ran out in California’s 51-31 win over Hawaii in 2016. Fordham and Holy Cross have taken their rivalry overseas twice, the second time before not. quite a few 2,500 fans in Bermuda in 1995.
Now, college football takes the leap again when Nebraska takes on Northwestern in Dublin on Saturday in the first regular-season international game in five years.
“We intend to kick off the season every year in Ireland,” said John Anthony, founder of Anthony Travel and Irish American Events, the match organiser.
Ireland have agreed a five-game deal for the series dubbed the Aer Lingus College Football Classic. Notre Dame was supposed to headline the first, against Navy, in 2020, but it was canceled due to the pandemic. Last year’s Nebraska-Illinois game was moved to Champaign for the same reason.
Notre Dame and Navy will now play at Aviva Stadium in next year’s opener. Based on 2020 figures – 40,000 tickets sold in the US – it should sell with a capacity close to 49,000.
Saturday’s Big Ten showdown will have a “mid-30s” attendance, Anthony said, including 13,000 fans from the United States.
Organizers were expecting 18,000 Americans and 5,000 Europeans with an economic impact of $63 million on the Irish economy. Apart from American travellers, only another 3,000 come from outside Ireland. The economic impact has been reduced to “at least” $40 million, Anthony said.
International ticket sales have been hit by COVID-19 concerns, and local fans haven’t seen a live American football game since 2016, when Georgia Tech beat Boston College, 17-14. It probably didn’t help either that Nebraska and the Northwest had 3-9 seasons.
Yet it delivers the biggest inbound tourism event of the year for Ireland. And as the North West’s home game, it is expected to attract more than the average attendance of 30,679 at Ryan Field last season.
Irish Sports Minister Jack Chambers sees it as a long-term investment by government partners.
“The COVID context has obviously had an impact, but it’s about recovering it and building it over the next few years,” Chambers told The Associated Press. “It’s something we are committed to. We are confident in the economic valuation of this and the benefits it brings to the country, but also the opportunities it brings to all who come, be it tourism, business, individuals or business.
Anthony wouldn’t divulge details on the teams’ financial amount, but for Northwestern it “will replace any revenue they might get from a home game…they don’t do it for less than that.” Northwestern, a private institution, did not respond to a request for comment.
“(A) school doesn’t make this decision because they want to make a lot of money. They want it for the experience of their student-athletes, their university, their followers and their constituency,” Anthony said. . “When you get 5, 10, 25,000 fans from your school in a totally foreign country just because you’re hosting a game there, you’ve already won.
North West coach Pat Fitzgerald called the trip a “unique opportunity”, noting that most of his players have never left the United States.
“We’re an international school and any time we get the opportunity to do something unique, I’m all for it,” he said in suburban Chicago on Monday.
Nebraska fans will make up the bulk of the American contingent.
Doug Ewald, executive associate athletic director and chief financial officer of the Cornhuskers, said Nebraska gets the charter flights plus $250,000 to spend as it pleases, and he estimated the cost of a typical conference game away is $150,000 anyway.
“At best, it’s probably a balancing act for us,” Ewald told the AP. Nebraska also does not ship merchandise for sale, primarily due to licensing and tax issues.
Australia hosted the last international match of the regular season. Stanford routed Rice 62-7 in 2017, a year after Cal’s victory over Hawaii. The New South Wales state government had paid millions to fly the teams as part of tourism promotions.
Sandra Chipchase, the former CEO of Destination NSW, said both games were successes thanks to visitor spending and “free publicity” through media stories and images of Sydney. The first match attracted more than 61,000 fans and the second – played in a smaller stadium – 33,000.
After successfully hosting Major League Baseball – the Los Angeles Dodgers and Arizona Diamondbacks opened the 2014 season Down Under – Australians turned to college football in a bid to attract the NFL.
“We wanted to use it to try to convince the NFL to bring an opener or a game at some point here,” Chipchase said. “We wanted to show them how popular it was.”
Ireland first hosted a game in 1988 when Boston College defeated Army 38-24. This will be Northwestern’s first overseas and second in Nebraska; the Huskers beat Kansas State 38-24 in Tokyo in 1992.
Squads for Dublin games beyond next year have not been announced.
“We’re talking to schools in the SEC and other big schools in the Big Ten,” Anthony said. “We’re attracting interest from some of the highest levels of college football.”