It is hard to tell yet how the American tourism season is going to be but for the best part of a week towards the end of August, Dublin is going to look a lot like a 53rd state.

The Aer Lingus College Football Classic will take place at the Aviva Stadium on Saturday, August 27th and will feature the Northwestern Wildcats, out of Chicago, and the Nebraska Cornhuskers.

Northwestern Coach Pat Fitzgerald was here in Dublin in recent weeks and yesterday took time out to chat with the media about his own Irish roots and what he is looking forward to most on his trip over.

On his recent journey, he dropped by Epic on Dublin’s Custom House Quay and discovered that the connections go deep. They come from Limerick and also from the town of Nurney in County Kildare where his cousin Syl Merrins is the Kildare Local Sports Partnership Coordinator.

He’ll be one of a wide family group who will be joining the festivities among 50,000 fans from across the US, Europe and Ireland in August.

The Northwestern team will fly into Dublin with Aer Lingus the previous Wednesday morning and will be out and about with commercial partners and fans on that first day and on the Thursday.

They will also be staying in Dublin on Saturday night and all day Sunday to soak up the atmosphere and feel for the city.

“I’m expecting quite a few to be wearing sunglasses and chewing gum when we check in to fly back on Monday,” said Fitzgerald.

“It’s a great opportunity for our game to gain more exposure, not only in Ireland but all of Europe, and to get a sense of the college game.”

“The pageantry and the electricity around the college game with cheerleaders, bands, tailgating and more are very special and taking it on the road to Europe is something we are really looking forward to. The more that we can be exposed to Europe, the more we will set root there.”

Fitzgerald’s most recent contract was for ten years and takes him through to 2030 so he can afford to kick back a little and enjoy the build-up but you don’t get to his level in the sport without a steely determination, and he is not just here for the party.

“We have a huge challenge against Nebraska. Last year we played them in Lincoln and they put up perhaps their best performance of the year.

“We did not play very well then but we will be much improved this year and it should be a really good game, and probably a close one looking back at our record down the years.”

Those who registered for pre-sale ticket access will be able to buy from 9 AM this morning while general tickets go on sale this Friday 29th April on www.ticketmaster.ie/touchdowndublin

We will have an exclusive interview tomorrow morning with Brendan Meehan of the College Football Classic to talk about what the game week will mean for Dublin and Ireland.

Sport for Business Partners