The Pittsburgh Steelers are eyeing a return to Ireland in the near future, president Art Rooney II said over the weekend.
The Steelers played in the first NFL game played in Ireland, which was a preseason game against the Chicago Bears back in 1997 at Croke Park in Dublin.
The Steelers are one of two teams, along with the Jacksonville Jaguars, to hold international marketing rights in Ireland. No regular-season game has ever been played in Ireland, but the Steelers wouldn’t mind being the first.
“We’re excited about the opportunity to have a greater presence in Ireland,” Rooney said to Sky Sports over the weekend. “I feel like we have a built-in set of fans over there with relatives and some friends from over the years. We’re very excited about it.”
The Rooney family has a history in Ireland that goes well beyond playing one game there 25 years ago.
“The Rooneys emigrated from Ireland back in the 1800s,” Rooney said. “There’s a long history, a long connection. On my mother’s side, my grandparents came over back in the 1920s, so a lot of relatives are still over in Ireland. I go back and visit them from time to time, and of course, my father wound up being the Ambassador to Ireland for a while. A lot of deep connections for us over there.”
Since the Steelers last played in Ireland, several college football games have been played there, with Notre Dame and Navy playing at Aviva Stadium this fall and Georgia Tech and Florida State set to play there next season.
There are two NFL-sized stadiums in Dublin. Aviva Stadium seats 49,000. Croke Park seats 82,300.
“We absolutely want to play a game over there again sometime soon,” Rooney said. “Whether it’s a preseason game or a regular season game, we haven’t been able to narrow that down yet. But we’ll get there. It’s going to be exciting.”
The Steelers also have international marketing rights in Mexico, where it seems likely that they could be hosting a regular season game in 2025.