A joint announcement in the US and Ireland has revealed that Northwestern University (Wildcats) will take on the University of Nebraska (Cornhuskers) in the Aviva Stadium on Saturday, 27 August 2022.
The Aer Lingus College Football five-game series was due to start in 2020 but was disrupted due to the pandemic so this announcement is a significant milestone in getting the series back on track.
As Nebraska is one of the most successful American College Football teams in history, and with such strong Irish ties to the city of Chicago where the Wildcats are based, the game is sure to be a huge draw to sports fans here in Ireland as well as across the US and Europe.
It is expected that it will also generate a massive €63million for the Irish Economy next year, providing a much-needed boost for the country’s Tourism and Hospitality sectors.
The fixture is scheduled for week zero, and as both teams are a part of the famed Big Ten Conference, over 18,000 US fans and 5,000 European fans are expected to travel for the game that will be a major international, post-covid event for Ireland.
The Series principal stakeholders are Aer Lingus, Failte Ireland, Tourism Ireland and Dublin City Council.
“The past year has been a very difficult one for us all in Ireland and in the United States,” said Taoiseach Micheál Martin making the announcement.
“With our vaccination rollout advancing at pace, we are beginning to see light at the end of the tunnel, and we can begin to look forward with optimism to welcoming visitors safely back to our shores. When we do, we will have a very special welcome ready for the teams and their supporters when they visit us for the Aer Lingus College Football Classic on the 27th of August 2022.”
“This is an incredible opportunity for our entire University community, from student-athletes to coaches, alumni and fans,” said Northwestern Head Coach Pat Fitzgerald.
“We are thrilled that our program will get to immerse themselves into the beautiful Irish culture, while we continue to help grow the game of college football on a global stage. It’s an honour to be included in this once-in-a-lifetime experience and can’t wait to have the Northwestern faithful join us in one of the world’s most amazing settings.”
“I know our great Husker fan base will be excited by the opportunity to travel to Ireland, and to see their team compete on an international stage will truly be special,” added Nebraska Athletic Director Bill Moos.
“The announcement of next year’s game marks a major milestone in both the recovery of major tourism and sporting events for Ireland along with the wider economy,” added Padraic O’Kane from Irish American Events Ltd.
“On behalf of our stakeholders, we are delighted to welcome the Northwestern Wildcats, Nebraska Husker’s game, and later this year we plan to announce a further game for 2023, the second in the five-game Aer Lingus College Football series. As organisers in consultation with our stakeholders, the absolute priority is to ensure that players, staff, alumni and fans will be awarded our famous Irish welcome within a safe environment for their visit to Ireland next year.”
Beacon of Hope
“Today’s announcement is a welcome beacon of hope for travel on both sides of the Atlantic,” said David Shepherd, Chief Commercial Officer for Aer Lingus
“As a proud sponsor of the Aer Lingus College Football Series, we look forward to flying the Northwestern Wildcats, Nebraska Huskers and their respective delegations to Ireland next summer, and to promoting our airline to our valued US market.”
“The benefit for our city, both economically and socially, will be immense, providing a welcome boost for the tourism and hospitality industries,” said Hazel Chu, Lord Mayor of Dublin.
“Such events strengthen our ties with other great nations, showcasing Dublin as a premier hosting destination and after a challenging year gives great optimism to the Country for the months ahead.”
The University of Nebraska fans are renowned for taking over stadiums, home and away, with their famous “Sea of Red”, and so with this trip to Dublin, natives can expect to see more red than ever before in the country. The Northwestern Wildcats are also known as “Chicago’s Big Ten Team” due to their proximity to Chicago which makes for a great celebration amongst the Irish spectators, with the high number of the population with close connections and roots in the US city that are so highly valued.
The specially commissioned Waterford Crystal trophy is the perpetual prize for the Aer Lingus College Football Classic. The Keough-Naughton trophy bears the names of two powerhouses of Irish America, Don Keough and Martin Naughton.
Watch our special show from the Aviva Stadium welcoming the event back to Dublin:
The Aer Lingus College Football Series will be bringing the usual college football fanfare with it, so attendees can expect lots of fun events including marching bands, cheerleaders and tailgating parties. For exclusive information see www.collegefootballireland.com and follow College Football Ireland on Twitter @CFBIreland, Facebook @CollegeFootballIreland and Instagram @CFBIreland with the official game hashtag: #MuchMoreThanAGame
The Aer Lingus College Football Classic is among more than 250+ members of the Sport for Business network of sporting and business organisations working together across a number of key areas.
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