The University of Illinois will take on the University of Nebraska in the Aviva Stadium for the opening match of the 2021/22 College Football season.
The game will be the second in a five year series of the Aer Lingus College Football Classic and will take place on the 28th of August 2021.
Both teams are in the top flight of the College game with the University of Nebraska one of the most successful American College Football teams in history.
The five-game series, sponsored by Aer Lingus kicks off with the return of the Navy vs Notre Dame which will take place on Saturday 29th August 2020 and is expected to generate €250 million direct economic windfall for the country over the coming years.
Fans are expected to travel in droves to the game similarly to in 2012 when over 35,000 fans travelled from the US to the Aviva Stadium for the Navy V Notre Dame fixture.
Ticket sales are strong in the US already and a limited number of general tickets will go on sale to the public this coming spring.
For the 2021 game an expected 25,000 fans will travel. Illinois has deep roots with Ireland and Nebraska fans are renowned for their willingness to travel and turn opposing teams home stadia red. Warren Buffet is one of the University’s most famous alumni.
The University of Illinois Marching Band was the first American marching band to perform in the St. Patrick’s Day Parade and have made trips to Dublin seven times, including their most recent visit in 2018. The Marching Illini are scheduled to return in 2022.
A core objective of the Aer Lingus College Football Classic Series is to foster academic collaboration and relationships as well as business and sporting links, so Illinois were a natural fit.
The university already has strong institutional agreements in Ireland with universities and institutions across the country including Cork Institute of Technology, UCD, NUI Galway, UCC and DCU.
“It’s great to see new teams getting involved in the Aer Lingus College Football Classic,” said Taoiseach Leo Varadkar.
“Ten of thousands of fans are expected to make the journey for each game in the series over the next five years, bringing with them a huge boost for the economy.”
“Illinois and Nebraska players and fans can look forward to the best of Irish hospitality. The series will showcase Ireland as a location for international events and tournaments and put our world-leading tourism sector front and centre.”
“The 2020 game between Notre Dame and Navy is fast approaching and now sports fans have another great occasion to plan for in 2021.”
“It is a privilege to be here at the University of Illinois for the announcement of the teams for the 2021 Aer Lingus College Football Classic,” added Lord Mayor of Dublin, Paul McAuliffe who travelled to Illinois as part of the official Irish party for the announcement.
“I welcome the news that both the University of Illinois and University of Nebraska teams and fans will travel to Dublin in 2021 and I look forward to seeing the colour and energy that they will bring to the city of Dublin.”
“Dublin and Ireland are ready to welcome you! This fixture is an important date in our calendar and showcases Dublin as a destination for hosting major international sporting events.”
“This is a milestone moment for the combined Irish American Events team,” said Series Promoter Padraic O’Kane.
“We set ourselves the ambitious goal back in 2015 when we formed the joint venture company, to establish Ireland as the European headquarters of College Football.”
“Today we announce our first back to back fixture with the news that the Fighting Illini and the Huskers from the Big Ten conference will play Dublin in 2021.”
“On or around St. Patrick’s Day 2020 we plan to announce the 2022 fixture which will make it three games of the five game series confirmed in a row, not to mention the amazing and exciting recent news that ESPN College GameDay is coming to Dublin next summer as part of the 2020 Classic, our ambitious goal is now a reality.”
“We are honoured to promote and operate such profile annual events under the umbrella of Much More than a Game, as part of the Aer Lingus College Football Series.”
“It’s a real team Ireland public and private partnership win, and a special word of thanks must go to Aer Lingus, Failte Ireland, Tourism Ireland and Dublin City Council for believing in our vision.”
“With the excitement building ahead of the return of Navy and Notre Dame next August for the Aer Lingus College Football Classic 2020, it is great to see such enthusiasm from other teams to cross the North Atlantic to play in Ireland in 2021,” said Sean Doyle, CEO of Aer Lingus.
“As title sponsor of the five-game series we have no doubt that this exciting event will strengthen the important ties, both in sports and in tourism, between Ireland and the US.”
“Aer Lingus now fly to 14 North American destinations direct from Ireland. The Aer Lingus College Football Classic provides us with a unique opportunity to promote ourselves to this key strategic US audience.”
Image Credit: University of Illinois