HomeFootballCollege Football Classic delivers €180 million boost to Irish economy

College Football Classic delivers €180 million boost to Irish economy


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The 2023 College Football Classic at the Aviva Stadium delivered a €180 million boost to the Irish economy, new figures have revealed.

The American Football game featuring Notre Dame (Fighting Irish) and Navy, was a sell-out last August with tens of thousands of supporters travelling from the United States and millions more watching on television.

The organisers say the €180 million economic impact, disclosed in the newly published Post-Game Economic Impact Report by Grant Thornton, underscores the significance of supporting and leveraging international sporting events to enhance Irish tourism, bolster the local economy, and foster business links.

Commenting on the report’s findings, Minister for Tourism, Catherine Martin said: “The Aer Lingus College Football Classic is a prime example of how strategic events align with government policy and Fáilte Ireland’s vision for destination development. With an economic impact of €180 million for last year’s exceptional event, initiatives of this scale not only bolster local economies but also spread business opportunities throughout the country.”

The historic sold-out game in August 2023 at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin, the second of a five-game series, attracted over 49,000 attendees, with 39,702 from the US, 1,063 visitors from other parts of the world, and over 8,000 from Ireland. The event marked one of the highest revenue-generating sporting events ever held in Ireland and witnessed the largest-ever single movement of U.S. citizens outside of the U.S. for an individual sporting event.

Georgia Tech will take on Florida State this August while Kansas State University and Iowa State University will clash at the Aviva Stadium in 2025.

Paul Kelly, CEO of Fáilte Ireland said: “As the National Tourism Development Authority, Fáilte Ireland quickly recognised the tourism potential of the Aer Lingus College Football Classic to attract large numbers of visitors from the USA, and we are pleased to help bring this major US sporting event to Ireland.

“I would like to pay tribute to the vision of Martin and Carmel Naughton and family for initiating and championing this great Irish American connection, which now drives significant economic benefit for Ireland, not only through tourism but also through wider business and academic channels.”

Grant Thornton’s methodology for assessing the economic impact of the Aer Lingus College Football Classic 2023 examined the impact on two levels: the contribution to Dublin’s economy, including all attendees, and the broader effect on the Irish economy of international visitors – primarily from North America – attending the game.

Their analysis incorporated key factors such as travel package values, accommodation expenses for non-package travellers, and daily spending based on average transactions taken from MasterCard transaction data.

The event also hosted the prestigious Ireland US CEO Club, where over 450 CEOs from leading companies on both sides of the Atlantic convened. They gathered for an event in the Round Room of the Mansion House in Dublin, featuring a panel discussion facilitated by Jack Brennan, Chair of the Board of Trustees at Notre Dame.

Additionally, the game broadcast on NBC in the US, with average viewing figures of 3.8 million, and on Sky Sports in Ireland and the UK, as well as across numerous podcasts, radio and video shows providing a significant branding boost for Ireland on the global stage, attracting attention from prospective tourists and enhancing the visibility of Ireland as a premier destination for sports enthusiasts.

“We are the proud title sponsor of the Aer Lingus College Football Classic, so I am really pleased that it continues to have such a positive impact on the Irish economy. It draws throngs of American fans to Ireland, boosting tourism and strengthening our connection with college football fans across the USA. The announcement of the 2025 teams fuels the momentum, and we eagerly await welcoming those fans to Dublin,” said Lynne Embleton, Aer Lingus CEO.

Padraic O’Kane, from Irish American Events Ltd, commented: “With the strong interest from other top-tier College Football teams and the resulting confirmation of the 2025 game between Kansas State University and Iowa State University, The Aer Lingus College Football Classic series has truly solidified Dublin, and Ireland, as the global location of choice for the opening game of the College Football Season on an annual basis into the future.”

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