Could we see an NFL regular-season game on the Emerald Isle?
If Pittsburgh Steelers owner Dan Rooney has his way, football -- the American kind -- eventually will find a home in Ireland.
"I think it'd be terrific," Rooney, the U.S. ambassador to Ireland, told the BBC. "We came over before back in 1997 and played a preseason game. But now, with the regular season games in London at Wembley proving so successful, and tickets selling out almost as soon as they're put on sale, I would think it would be good to play a game here, at Croke Park, as the interest in the sport is so strong."
League officials visited Dublin's Croke Park this year and found the venue "very attractive." The home of the Gaelic games and more than a few U2 concerts, Croke has a capacity of 82,500.
"We need stadiums that have availability in the middle of our season and the soccer season," said Mark Waller, chief marketing officer of the NFL. "We also need them to be large, able to take the levels of hospitality and corporate entertainment that we generate. We looked long and hard before we came to play regular-season games at Wembley. Now we're looking seriously at playing two games internationally and, as we do that, Ireland and this venue in particular are very attractive to us."
In September, Notre Dame and Navy will play in Dublin's Aviva Stadium, in a game that quickly sold out. The demand is there, and it appears the league is comfortable with the infrastructure in place. Irish eyes should smile on some NFL action.