The Pittsburgh Steelers are boosting their presence in Ireland and hope to play a regular season game here, strengthening the already-strong ties between the two regions.
The NFL awarded the Steelers rights to expand their brand and activities for the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland as part of the NFL’s Global Markets Program.
As an active NFL marquee franchise, the Steelers can host exclusive events, such as fan and youth football activities throughout Ireland, and the Global Markets Program licence also allows them to engage corporate sponsors, merchandise sales and marketing relationships.
“Our aspirations long term are to play a game in Ireland,” said Daniel Rooney, the team’s director of business development and strategy.
To date, Ireland has never hosted a regular-season NFL game, but the Steelers beat the Chicago Bears 30-17 in a pre-season matchup at Dublin’s Croke Park in 1997. Croke Park holds 82,300 and would likely be the site of any future Steelers game.
Serving as the US Ambassador from 2009-12, late Steelers Chairman Dan Rooney’s ties with Ireland were notable. During his time, Mr Rooney helped establish the Ireland Funds, a programme founded to promote and support peace, culture, education and community development across Ireland and among Irish communities around the world. Mr Rooney also worked to further the knowledge of the game of (American) football throughout Ireland, efforts that included an annual flag football contest.
Aiming to restart traditions while broadening their reach—the Steelers have launched dedicated Irish social media accounts and are planning a fan watch party.
“My family has deep roots throughout Ireland and being able to connect with our fans across the island is something special to our organisation,” said Steelers President Art Rooney II, whose grandfather, Art Rooney Sr., was the founding owner of the NFL franchise.
Strengthening the connections between Pittsburgh and Ireland, The Steelers announcement joins other established companies with deep roots in the country, including healthcare giant UPMC, which operates over 10 hospitals and clinics and recently announced an expansion of its Global Technology Operations Centre in Kilkenny. Additional corporate ties include K&L Gates, KraftHeinz, Federated Hermes, Viatris and Accenture. The Pittsburgh metro region also has strong ancestral ties to Ireland. According to the Pew Research Center, Pittsburgh ranked first among large US cities with 17% of its population claiming Irish ancestry.
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