The Aviva Stadium in Dublin
By Ray O’Hanlon
Ireland is becoming a go to place for fall college football classics.
In 2016, Boston College and Georgia Tech will do battle on the green sward of the Aviva Stadium in Dublin.
Details of what is being titled the Aer Lingus College Football Classic were released today.
The game will take place on Saturday, September 3, 2016.
The announcement was made at two receptions, one in Dublin attended by Taoiseach Enda Kenny, and the other in Boston College attended by Mayor of Boston, Marty Walsh.
Aer Lingus was also announced as title sponsor for the game that will see the Boston College Eagles kick off the 2016/17 NCAA Division I College Football Season in an Atlantic Coast Conference game against the Yellow Jackets of Georgia Tech.
Tourism Ireland, Failte Ireland and Dublin City Council are also supporting the game.
Event organizers are confident the game will be a 48,000 ticket sellout. It is expected that 25,000 will travel from the U.S. and Europe to the game, said a release.
While general ticket sales are still some months away, tour packages in the U.S. went on sale Thursday. Corporate hospitality facilities at Aviva Stadium have also gone on sale. Further details at www.collegefootballireland.com.
Speaking at the announcement, Mr. Kenny said he was delighted that college football was returning to Ireland.
“This is great news for Irish tourism and the economy. In 2012 and again last year we witnessed a huge surge of U.S. visitors to our shores for the Emerald Isle Classic and the Croke Park Classic and I have no doubt, particularly given Boston College’s close links with this country, we will see another spectacular success in 2016.
“Sports tourism and events like this college football game have become increasingly important as we build and develop our tourism industry and I want to thank Boston College President, Fr. William Leahy, for his support in making this game a reality.”
Aer Lingus Chief Executive, Stephen Kavanagh, said the airline was delighted to be involved in the game.
“We are very proud to partner with Boston College and Georgia Tech. Aer Lingus operates three daily services from Boston connecting to Ireland and beyond and we are delighted to support our local team.
“2016 is a very special year for Aer Lingus as we will celebrate our 80th anniversary. We look forward to offering guests a warm welcome on board our flights, and we wish the organizers all the best in their preparations for what promises to be a great sporting event,” Kavanagh said.
Boston College will be making its second football visit to Ireland. In 1988 the Eagles played and defeated Army 38-24 in front of a 42,000 crowd in the old Lansdowne Road, where the Aviva now stands.
BC’s Fr. Leahy expressed delight at the opportunity to return to Ireland.
“Our history and our connections with Ireland are well known. We are very proud of our campus on Dublin’s St. Stephen’s Green. 2016 is a very special year in Ireland’s history and we are particularly pleased that we will be travelling with hopefully tens of thousands Boston College supporters to share in those celebrations and enjoy this important conference game with Georgia Tech.”
Niall Gibbons, CEO of Tourism Ireland, said: “This game will provide a further, very welcome boost for tourism next year, with up to 25,000 people expected to travel here from the U.S. and Europe.
“It will undoubtedly be another wonderful college football event for Dublin, bringing wider benefits to the island as a whole. Tourism Ireland in the U.S. is working closely with Anthony Travel, the official travel company for both colleges, and other travel partners, to maximize the tourism benefits of the game.
“Sports-related tourism has emerged as a very significant element of the global travel business in recent years and the Aer Lingus College Football Classic will be another great opportunity to showcase Dublin and Ireland, and more generally the many attractions that the island of Ireland offers as a holiday destination.”
The game is being organized by a newly created entity, Irish American Events Ltd, which is a joint venture between Corporate.ie and Anthony Travel, who have been involved in the recent college football games in Ireland.