The Pittsburgh Steelers recently received the marketing rights to Ireland and Northern Ireland as part of the NFL’s Global Markets Program. The Steelers’ Irish roots are well-known, with the Rooney family owning the team throughout its history and the late Dan Rooney serving as United States Ambassador to Ireland from 2009-12. Today, Rooney’s grandson, Daniel Martin Rooney, often referred to as the heir apparent to the organization, was in Ireland to speak about the Steelers receiving the marketing rights and the team’s future in Ireland.
Rooney, the Steelers’ Director of Business Development and Strategy, expressed his desire for Pittsburgh to play a game in Ireland, according to the Associated Press.
“Our aspirations long term are to play a game in Ireland,” said Rooney, who is the son of current owner Art Rooney II. “As we move through the process, we’ll be evaluating all options.”
While Ireland has never hosted a regular-season NFL game, Pittsburgh played a preseason game there back in 1997. Pittsburgh beat the Chicago Bears, 30-17, and in turn received a Waterford Crystal Trophy. While that game did not count for anything in the record books it is clear the team wants to play a game in Ireland that does.
In a press conference streamed by Steelers.com, Rooney said that when the team had the opportunity to secure the marketing rights to Ireland, it jumped at the opportunity.
“When the opportunity arose for NFL teams to become more active in countries outside the U.S. the Steelers could not have been more excited to reestablish the traditions my grandfather so proudly established here in Ireland, as well as to bring forth new ones,” he said.
Pittsburgh now has the marketing rights to Ireland, Northern Ireland, and Mexico, and will likely soon be playing an international game. The last time the Steelers played overseas was back in 2013 when they played at Wembley Stadium in London and lost 34-27 to the Minnesota Vikings.
With the Steelers openly saying they would like to play an NFL game in Ireland, and having the marketing rights to the country I believe very soon we will see Pittsburgh play there. If there is any place the Steelers would not mind giving up a home game to play, Ireland would be very high up on the list if not atop it. It is a country that is near and dear to the Rooney family, and now that the Steelers have the marketing rights building up the their fan base in Ireland shouldn’t be difficult at all.