2nd June 2020: Following extensive consultation with the Irish government, medical authorities and the leadership teams at Navy and Notre Dame, the Aer Lingus Classic football game scheduled for August 29 will not be played at Aviva Stadium in Dublin, Ireland.
It is the intention of both Navy and Notre Dame to open the 2020 college football season with the 94th consecutive playing of the longest continuous intersectional rivalry in the country at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium in Annapolis, USA.
“We are obviously disappointed not to be traveling to Ireland this August,” said Naval Academy Director of Athletics Chet Gladchuk. “But, as expected, our priority must be ensuring the health and safety of all involved. I am expecting that we will still be able to play Notre Dame as our season opener, but there is still much to be determined by health officials and those that govern college football at large. Once we have a definitive plan in place, we will announce the specifics pertaining to the game. I am extremely grateful to all that were involved in the planning of our game in Aviva Stadium, especially John Anthony and Padraic O’Kane who created what would have been another extraordinary event in Dublin. I realize many are disappointed and were looking forward to the spectacle of this event and a visit to the Emerald Isle, but I do know there is a complete understanding of why it’s in our best interests to make every effort to relocate the game.”
“Our student-athletes have had great experiences competing in Ireland and are very disappointed not to be returning to Dublin in 2020,” said Jack Swarbrick, Vice President and James E. Rohr Director of Athletics at Notre Dame. “The change of venue has been a very difficult decision for our colleagues at the Naval Academy, but we are in full support of their choice. We are also grateful for everything our partners in Ireland have done to make this a smooth transition. We look forward to going back to Ireland for a game in the not too distant future.”
Such was the interest in the game, that it was set to create a new world-record, with almost 40,000 (39,566) US visitors booked to travel for the August 29th College Football Season Opener; which would have made it the largest number of American’s to travel outside of the United States for a single sporting event. In addition to the large number that planned to travel, the game was due to be televised coast-to-coast in the US by ESPN to an estimated 6 million viewers. ESPN’s College GameDay pre-show was also due to be broadcasted live from College Green in Dublin.
The previous Navy vs Notre Dame fixture in Aviva Stadium in 2012 will continue to hold the record when 35,000 fans travelling from the U.S., resulting in one of the largest economic and tourism boosts for the country in recent memory.
The five-game Aer Lingus College Football Classic Series is now due to start in 2021, which is estimated by Grant Thornton and Fáilte Ireland to be worth a €250 million boost to the Irish economy over the coming years. The moving of the 2020 fixture from Dublin, will see a direct economic loss of €80 million euros to the Irish economy according to the Steering Committee of the Game Series, which is a public / private partnership.
The series will now commence on August 28th, 2021 when the University of Illinois will play the University of Nebraska at the Aviva Stadium Dublin for the 2021 season opener. This will be the first time that either team has travelled to Ireland with the game expected to draw a huge interest from sports fans both in the US and Europe as Nebraska is one of the most successful American College Football teams in history and Illinois has significant links with Ireland. Ticketing and additional information available on www.collegefootballireland.com
An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar T.D said; “College football is one of the greatest spectacles in world sport and we had been thoroughly looking forward to welcoming Navy and Notre Dame here this summer for the first game of the Aer Lingus College Football Classic Series. Unfortunately, due to circumstances beyond our control, that is now not possible, but we hope to see both universities return to Aviva Stadium in the coming years.”
“I want to personally thank both the Navy Athletics Director, Chet Gladchuk, and the Notre Dame Athletics Director, Jack Swarbrick, for their efforts to bring the game to Ireland and we hope to welcome both teams back in the near future.”
“Longer term, the Aer Lingus College Football Classic five-game series, now due to begin in 2021 with Illinois vs Nebraska at Aviva Stadium, will provide a significant economic boost for the Irish tourism and hospitality sector.”
Navy and Notre Dame will continue to work closely with the event organizers to plan for a return to Ireland in the coming years. Ticketholders will be contacted by their purchase provider in the coming days.