GPA chief Farrell calls on GAA to bring big games Stateside

GPA chief executive Dessie Farrell says bringing a competitive GAA game to the US would be a major step for Gaelic games in the country.

Following up on yesterday’s Irish Examiner story, Farrell revealed the official players body have a number of proposals about staging a high profile game across the Atlantic.

While the Railway Cup is a possibility, a championship game is a long-term prospect with the GAA particularly keen to broaden their exposure in the US.

“I think there would be a number of phases to go through to bring a full-blooded competitive game here,” said Farrell.

“It’s a big ask but it’s not that it couldn’t be done when you consider the game that was played here in the Polo Grounds and that pioneering spirit of Paddy “Bawn” Brosnan getting on a boat to play in an All-Ireland final.

“Why couldn’t we bring a proper game over here at some point in time?”

Farrell believes the GPA may be able to help the GAA open doors to mainstream TV coverage in the US via their connections. And a competitive game would certainly add weight to the plans to make their fundraising dinner in the US an annual event.

“In terms of helping our cause over here, if we could bring games to the US, that would be phenomenal.

“You could hang a lot of stuff off the back of that. It brings more awareness, it raises the profile. We’ve a couple of ideas around that.

“The GAA themselves are very keen to explore this avenue because the GAA here fulfils a very important in terms of it’s an outlet for first generation Irish. We believe there is huge untapped potential outside of that.

“Can we get those individuals engaged, can we bring our games to more homes across America? It’s estimated there are 40 million individuals in this country of Irish extraction so if you consider the AFL broadcast their games here when their season is on and has seven million viewers on a weekly basis.

“We don’t have next to near that and the indigenous Aussies in this country doesn’t compare to the Irish-American community. We believe there is a huge opportunity. Trying to get the games on mainstream TV is one aspect.

“The other aspect is possibly bringing out games and maybe moving away from trying to bring the game out and attract the crowd.

“Maybe bring the game to where there is going to be a huge crowd of Irish people for whatever reason be it a festival or perhaps there are opportunities with Notre Dame.”

Ahead of last night’s Irish-American Heritage awards dinner fundraiser for the GPA, Farrell said their objective from the event is to increase their average spend per player by approximately 150% in the next three years.

“Across our entire programme, if you averaged out the entire funds available per individual member — we have 2,500 members — it works out at around $800 (€626). The objective for us, the ambition for us would be to raise that figure to in the region of $2,000 (€1,565) per head. That’s the cost across the spectrum of programmes.

“We benchmark that against the NFL and NBA and they’re successful, cash-rich organisations because of TV rights and the share.”

A crowd of 420 attended last night’s event with tables starting at $10,000 (€7,825) rising to $25,000 (€19,563).

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