Steelers owner confident of game in Ireland: ‘We’ll get there!’

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Pittsburgh Steelers owner Art Rooney II has outlined his desire to bring a game to Ireland in the near future, having last played in Dublin back in 1997; Steelers were awarded marketing rights in Ireland earlier this year as part of the league’s Global Markets Program

Last Updated: 13/09/23 8:12pm

Having played a preseason game at Croke Park in 1997, Pittsburgh Steelers owner Art Rooney II admits he'd love to return to Ireland for another match at some point

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Having played a preseason game at Croke Park in 1997, Pittsburgh Steelers owner Art Rooney II admits he’d love to return to Ireland for another match at some point

Having played a preseason game at Croke Park in 1997, Pittsburgh Steelers owner Art Rooney II admits he’d love to return to Ireland for another match at some point

The Pittsburgh Steelers are on their way to Ireland. If not now, then not long from now. 

In many ways they are already right there, this summer amplifying their deep-rooted Irish roots by gaining rights to elevate their brand on the Emerald Isle as part of the NFL’s ‘Global Markets Program’.

The Steelers remain the only team to have played a game in Ireland after famously meeting the Chicago Bears in a preseason contest at Croke Park in 1997.

Their presence in the country has stood the test of time with some ease, evidenced recently as an inaugural watch-party event at Croke Park for their November 19 clash with the Cleveland Browns sold out in a day.

Let that be just the start.

Sky Sports NFL's Neil Reynolds and Phoebe Schecter are presented with Steelers jerseys by Daniel Rooney

Sky Sports NFL’s Neil Reynolds and Phoebe Schecter are presented with Steelers jerseys by Daniel Rooney

“The Rooneys emigrated from Ireland back in the 1800s so there’s a long history and connection,” owner Art Rooney II tells Sky Sports.

“My grandparents came over on my mother’s side back in the 1920s so a lot of relatives are still over in Ireland, we go back and visit them from time to time.

“Of course, my father (Dan Rooney) ended up being the ambassador to Ireland so a lot of great connections over there.

“We’re excited about the opportunity to have a greater presence in Ireland and I feel like we have a built-in set of fans over there with relatives and friends over the years, so we’re pretty excited about it.

The Pittsburgh Steelers made a welcome return to Croke Park. Pictured is Steelers Director of Business Development & Strategy Daniel Rooney

The Pittsburgh Steelers made a welcome return to Croke Park. Pictured is Steelers Director of Business Development & Strategy Daniel Rooney

“We absolutely want to play a game over there again sometime soon, whether it’s a preseason game or regular season game we haven’t been able to narrow that down yet, but we’ll get there and it’s going to be exciting.”

Former Steelers two-time Super Bowl champion offensive tackle Max Starks believes the league’s accelerated growth on the international stage will pave the way to an eventual return to Ireland.

As far as interest is concerned, the annual Aer Lingus College Football Classic, celebrating kickoff in Week Zero of the college season, stands as overwhelming evidence that more football is in demand.

Two-time Super Bowl champion Max Starks believes his former side Pittsburgh could play in Ireland again in the future

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Two-time Super Bowl champion Max Starks believes his former side Pittsburgh could play in Ireland again in the future

Two-time Super Bowl champion Max Starks believes his former side Pittsburgh could play in Ireland again in the future

“I love the opportunity, because you think about the Steelers historically, we’ve already played in four countries,” Starks told Sky Sports. “We’ve played in Japan, Mexico City, Dublin before.

“When you’re looking at the international growth of this sport, I think the Rooney family especially having the family ties in Ireland, it makes for a big point.

“They had a business summit over there, the NFL’s Global Markets Program has been making a push to get overseas and do more. It’s a huge undertaking but the Steelers family have that motivation, obviously with the late Dan Rooney being an overseas ambassador to Ireland under the Obama administration, so there are a lot of deep ties.

“It would be amazing. Being able to go into Germany now and have multiple games in London, especially with Jacksonville, so it’s not far-fetched to think you can get to Ireland as well.

“We know what that support is. I think it is something that can happen in the future.”

Highlights of the San Francisco 49ers against the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 1 of the NFL season

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Highlights of the San Francisco 49ers against the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 1 of the NFL season

Highlights of the San Francisco 49ers against the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 1 of the NFL season

In an ideal world, the Steelers would envision making their eventual Irish homecoming of sorts as Super Bowl champions.

Pittsburgh has gone more than a decade without a trip to the NFL’s showpiece finale.

“It would be great, it’s been too long as far as we’re concerned, we want to get back there and win another,” added Rooney.

“We’re excited Mike (Tomlin) is our coach, he does a great job year in, year out and the players love playing for him. It would be great to get back there and win one.”

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