DUBLIN (AP) – The Pittsburgh Steelers have long-term plans to play a regular-season NFL game in Ireland, the team said Thursday during a visit to trumpet its long-standing ties with the Emerald Isle.
The Steelers touched down in Dublin days after the NFL gave the team marketing rights for Ireland and Northern Ireland, all part of the league’s aggressive push to expand its audience internationally.
“Our aspirations long term are to play a game in Ireland,” said Daniel Rooney, the team’s director of business development and strategy. “As we move through the process, we’ll be evaluating all options.”
Ireland has never hosted a regular-season NFL game, but the Steelers beat the Chicago Bears 30-17 in a preseason matchup at Croke Park in 1997.
Croke Park, home of the Gaelic Athletic Association, holds 82,300 and would almost certainly be the site of any future Steelers game.
GAA president Larry McCarthy joined Rooney at a news conference at Croke Park and said the organization is “delighted to be associated with (the Rooneys) and such a famous name and brand in the Steelers.”
Brett Gosper, NFL Head of UK and Europe, was also on hand and called the Steelers and Ireland a “perfect fit.”
“There are so many connections, obviously the family’s heritage (and) the Steelers organizing that first and only game – so far – in Ireland,” he said.
The late Daniel M. Rooney was U.S. ambassador to Ireland from 2009-12.
The Jacksonville Jaguars, who play in London every year, were also awarded marketing rights to Ireland.
The program was designed to help individual teams build their brands abroad through commercial activity and fan engagement similar to what they do in their home markets. Rights are granted by the league for at least a five-year term.
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