Dublin loses Navy-Notre Dame college game to coronavirus

Talk has turned towards sport's return in recent weeks but some dominoes continue to fall.
Dublin loses Navy-Notre Dame college game to coronavirus

Talk has turned towards sport's return in recent weeks but some dominoes continue to fall.

The American football clash of Navy and Notre Dame at Dublin's Aviva Stadium had been due to to take place at the end of August but, in a move that comes as no surprise, it has now been decided that the college rivals will meet Stateside instead.

If at all, that is.

Close to 40,000 Americans were due to fly over for the Aer Lingus Classic, making it the largest ever exodus from the country for a single sporting event. Grant Thornton and Fáilte Ireland had estimated the game to be worth €80m to the Irish economy.

Such figures can be argued but this is clearly a huge loss.

“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,” said the Taoiseach Leo Varadkar.

“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.”

The game was due to be the first of a five-game series to be played at the Dublin venue. It will now fall to Illinois and Nebraska, due to meet at the Aviva in the autumn of 2021, to kick that bloc of games off.

Navy and Notre Dame is the longest continuous inter-sectional rivalry in the college game and the pair had brought 35,000 fans to Dublin when they met at the Aviva in 2012. ESPN were due to host their coverage from College Green for a game slated to be the season opener.

The teams will now meet at the Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium in Annapolis, as long as the pandemic doesn't dictate another change of plans, and Naval Academy Director of Athletics Chet Gladchuk noted that this is still no guarantee.

“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 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."

His Notre Dame counterpart, Jack Swarbrick, expressed the hope that the 'Irish' would return to Dublin again “in the not too distant future”.

Those who bought tickets for the game will be contacted by their purchase provider in the coming days.

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