Aer Lingus College Football organisers planning to start series in 2022
17th February 2021: The University of Illinois along with local organisers have today announced that this year’s Aer Lingus College Football Classic game between Illinois and Nebraska, scheduled for Saturday 28th August, will not be played at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin, Ireland. The game will instead take place at Memorial Stadium in Champaign, USA.
Plans are continuing to bring the five-game series to Ireland and the focus is now on kicking off the series in 2022. All four Universities that were scheduled to play the opening fixture of the College Football Season in Ireland in 2020 and 2021 (Notre Dame, Navy, Illinois and Nebraska) remain committed to fulfilling the fixture at the earliest possible opportunity.
The announcement comes after months of consultation between the Irish government, medical authorities and key representatives from both Illinois and Nebraska; with all parties confirming their commitment to protecting the health and well-being of all involved during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Padraic O’Kane Director of Irish American Events Ltd stated; “Whilst today’s announcement is another difficult blow for the Irish Hospitality and Tourism Industry, as organisers, we are fully engaged with our stakeholders on both sides of the Atlantic and remain hopeful, that with the right support, we will be in a position to re-launch the Aer Lingus College Football five-game Series in the coming months.”
“We are at an advanced stage of negotiations with high-profile Universities for the 2022 and 2023 fixtures. However, the five-game series business model post-Covid-19 has additional costs and risks which we are currently working through with our public and private stakeholders and partners.”
Neil Naughton, Chairman of Aer Lingus College Football Classic commented; “It is desperately disappointing that it is necessary to cancel the 2021 Aer Lingus College Football Classic but public health must take precedent. These games offer huge publicity potential, practical economic benefits, and a genuine expression of the close ties between Ireland and the United States. The organisers are working to recommence the series from 2022 and I look forward to giving our visitors the welcome Ireland is so famous for.”
O’Kane added; “The economic impact of hosting the Aer Lingus College Football Series in Ireland in the coming years will play a crucial role in Ireland’s post-Covid recovery. These games are ‘Much More than a game’ and also bring academic, leisure and business events that run parallel with the game itself. The games attract on average 25,000 American visitors to the country, staying on average seven nights and the Illinois / Nebraska game alone was set to be worth an estimated €70 million to the Irish Economy. Irish hoteliers will feel that considerable blow today as 105,000 bed nights booked for the game have been released across the country for the second year in a row. We are determined to start the series at the Aviva Stadium in 2022.”
Ticketholders will be contacted by their purchase provider in the coming days.