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College football returns to Aviva Stadium

College American football will return to Ireland in 2020 with the Naval Academy and University of Notre Dame set to resume their historic rivalry by commencing a long-term deal to stage games at Dublin’s Aviva Stadium.

A five-game contract has been agreed that will start with the 94th playing of the Navy-Notre Dame game on August 29, 2020. Ireland is no stranger to hosting college football matches, with previous Dublin clashes between Navy and Notre Dame in 2012 and 1996 two of nine games held in the country.

The announcement yesterday (Thursday) by Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar in Dublin is projected to bring a €250m (£221.8m/€284.4m) economic benefit to the country. Airline Aer Lingus was unveiled as the title sponsor for the series and all five games will be played at Aviva Stadium, starting with the Navy-Notre Dame game.

The games will be organised by Irish American Events, a joint venture between Corporate.ie and Anthony Travel which has been involved in college football games in Ireland previously. The other key partners who will drive the game in both Ireland and America are Failte Ireland, Tourism Ireland and Dublin City Council.

“College football is one of the greatest spectacles in world sport and to bring it back to Ireland for a five-year series is wonderful news for Irish tourism and for sports fans,” Varadkar said. “Over 35,000 fans travelled to Ireland when Notre Dame and Navy last met in Dublin in 2012 and we will warmly welcome them and many others back for the Aer Lingus College Football Classics.

“Major games such as this one showcase Ireland as a location for international events and tournaments and put our world-leading hospitality and tourism sector front and centre.”

Naval Academy director of athletics, Chet Gladchuk, added: “In 2012, it was one of the greatest airlifts in all of sports with more than 35,000 people coming from the United States to witness the beauty of Ireland and the extravaganza that is Navy-Notre Dame and we expect just as many people to return in 2020.

“The support and enthusiasm for the game in Ireland is magnificent with the complete support from the Prime Minister and the Irish government agencies. We are looking forward to a great matchup in a country that knows no bounds for hospitality.”

Navy-Notre Dame is the longest continuous intersectional rivalry in college football with the two schools having met every year since 1927. Navy and Notre Dame are currently contracted to play on an annual basis through 2026. This pact began with a 10-year deal in 2005 that was subsequently extended for an additional decade in 2011.

Other fixtures and teams for the five-game series will be announced in due course.