2021 - ILLINOIS vs NEBRASKA
The Fighting Illini will pack up and head to Ireland when opening the 2021 season against Big Ten-foe Nebraska as part of the Aer Lingus College Football Series in Dublin. The University of Illinois, the University of Nebraska and Irish American Events Limited are partnering to take an American Football game to Aviva Stadium in Dublin for a Week Zero game on Aug. 28, 2021.
“The University of Illinois, our football program, our alumni and fans, and the entire Fighting Illini family are in for a once-in-a-lifetime experience on the Emerald Isle,” UI Director of Athletics Josh Whitman said. “When first approached about this game almost two years ago, we had immediate interest. This game will provide an incredible educational opportunity for our football student-athletes who, because of their schedule, generally do not receive the same international experiences as many of our other student-athletes. For our fans, I hope they will journey with us across the Atlantic for a wonderful trip and a major football game, all set against the beauty of Ireland.”
The Illinois-Nebraska game is the first in a series of games in the Aer Lingus College Football Series and will be the first Fighting Illini game played outside the United States.
MUCH MORE THAN A GAME
The Aer Lingus College Football Classic is much more than a game. With thousands of US and European travelers coming to Ireland, a number of events took place surrounding the 2016 game.
- Trinity College was announced as the official Welcome Village for the 2016 Classic
- Pep Rallies take place at the iconic Trinity Village main square
- Muthar Kent announced as guest speaker for CEO Club Forum which was held at Dublin Mansion House
- Senator George Mitchell was the key note speaker of the Irish Institute Lunch on the 30th August
- 150+ university band and cheer for both schools attended
- Burke Theatre hosted the Faculty symposium “University and the Innovation Economy” on Thursday 1st September
- ESPN live broadcaster of the game to a US audience of 2 million viewers
- American Football Showcase with six high school teams played in Donnybrook Stadium on Friday
The Aer Lingus College Football Classic will be held at the magnificent Aviva Stadium, which also held the 2012 Emerald Isle Classic between the University of Notre Dame and U.S. Naval Academy, as well as the 2016 Aer Lingus College Football Classic between Boston College and Georgia Tech.
Aviva Stadium is located in Dublin, Ireland, with a capacity of 51,700 and 48,000 for American Football. It is built on the site of the former Lansdowne Road stadium, which was demolished in 2007, and where Boston College played in 1988. It is home to the Irish Rugby Football Union and the Republic of Ireland national football team.
IRISH AMERICAN EVENTS LIMITED (IAEL)
The game is being organised by a new entity called Irish American Events Limited (IAEL) which is a joint venture between Corporate.ie and Anthony Travel who have been involved in the recent college football games in Ireland.
Corporate.ie is a leading Irish events and hospitality company. The company played a pivotal role to both the Emerald Isle Classic in 2012 and the Croke Park Classic in 2014 and has an excellent understanding of the various traditions and culture associated with US college football.
For the Emerald Isle Classic in 2012, Corporate.ie represented The University of Notre Dame on the ground in Ireland for 18 months prior to game weekend. Creating, developing and executing a very specific four day programme which was enjoyed by 28,000 plus Notre Dame traveling supporters. For the Croke Park Classic in 2014, Corporate.ie worked directly with the management of Croke Park Stadium on the strategic planning of the overall event from early 2014, assuming control for the activation of the City and the high-level business networking events.
Anthony Travel is a full service travel management company specialising in university and athletic travel. Founded in 1989, Anthony Travel has 26 years of experience in collegiate travel, servicing 58 college athletic departments year-round and numerous other universities throughout the year with special events. Anthony Travel manages all housing and travel components of 300+ athletic events annually and has managed over 160 international athletic tours in more than 30 countries on 6 continents.
Anthony Travel has played a significant role in the formation and execution of all of the successful overseas college football games of recent history, including the 2012 Emerald Isle Classic and 2014 Croke Park Classic, both played in Dublin and broadcast around the world. Anthony Travel consulted and executed with the participating universities on stadium selection, revenue strategies including sponsorships and ticket sales, marketing, travel packages, tourism relationships, pep rallies, pre-game parties, and various ancillary events.