The Superbowl has pushed American Football back to its annual place in the Irish sporting consciousness but Ireland’s own contribution to the sport has also been making waves with the 2016 College Football Classic landing the Irish Tourism Awards gong for Best Event / Festival Experience last year.
The game between Boston College and Georgia Tech drew a crowd of over 40,000 to the Aviva Stadium, almost half of whom had travelled from the US and delivered a major boost to sports tourism in the city.
The success had previously been recognised at the Sport Industry Awards held in Dublin in November.
Organisers Corporate.ie revealed at a Sport for Business Sports Tourism gathering in January that they are now actively pursuing making the event an annual staple of the Irish sporting scene from 2018.
Its value to the city and the country runs much deeper than just the bed nights and the spend from visitors.
Last year the Boston College CEO’s Club held a major event at the Mansion House bringing together global leaders of US brands including State Street, Coca Cola and many more delivering jobs and international credibility for ireland as a gateway to Europe.
That kind of connection is ever more valuable in a post Brexit and Donald Trump led new world order and college sport has proven its worth as a valuable conduit for Ireland to do business.
The event sponsors last year included Aer Lingus as the main sponsors of the College Football Classic, as well as Failte Ireland, Dublin City Council, Grant Thornton, The Loop at Dublin Airport, Waterford Crystal, Enterprise Ireland, Abbey Ireland, Glen Dimplex, IDA Ireland, Coca Cola and the Compass Group.
The event was managed by Corporate.ie whose Chairman Neil Naughton and CEO Padraic O’Kane were on hand to receive the award on Friday night from Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Shane Ross and Nandi O’Sullivan from Shannon Airport.