THE NFL HAS shelved plans to hold a second regular-season game in Europe this year, ruling out the possibility of a high-profile fixture in Croke Park this autumn.
A team of high-ranking officials visited Jones Road in December as part of a whistle-stop tour to scout out European venues for a second overseas match on the NFL calendar.
But the NFL has confirmed to TheScore.ie that the game between the St Louis Rams and the New England Patriots in Wembley Stadium, announced earlier today, will be the only European fixture in 2012.
“Our announcement states that the Rams-Patriots game at Wembley will be the only game in the UK next season. But we also can confirm that it will be the only NFL game played in Europe next season,” a spokesperson said.
The match, which takes place on 28 October, begins a three-year commitment by the Rams to play an annual “home” game in London in 2012, 2013 and 2014.
NFL owners voted last October to extend the International Series until 2016, a decision which also opened up the possibility of additional games to meet demand of American football fans in Europe.
Croke Park has long been seen a strong contender to host a regular-season NFL game. The American Ambassador to Ireland, Dan Rooney, has made no secret of the fact that he would like to see the Pittsburgh Steelers, whom he owns, come to Dublin.
Before submitting an official bid document, Croke Park was among a number of European stadiums visited by an NFL reconnaissance team last December.
Chris Parsons, the NFL’s Vice-President of International Business and leader of the Dublin delegation, told TheScore.ie that they were “impressed” by what GAA Headquarters had to offer.
“They did a very nice job of hosting us and showing us what they were capable of providing for our game,” Parsons said. “The stadium has many of the elements we need to host a successful game.”
Croke Park officials were not available for comment when contacted this afternoon.
Today’s news means that Irish American football fans will have to wait until at least 2013 to see if their dreams of a regular-season NFL game in Dublin come true. On 1 September, the Aviva Stadium will host a college football game between Notre Dame and Navy.
Yesterday, Steelers President Art Rooney II told the Beaver County Times that the franchise would want to avoid a clash with another game if they decide to come to Dublin.
“That’s a possibility, although from what I understand, probably not 2012 as far as Ireland is concerned,” Rooney said.
We may not want to piggy-back on top of that [Notre Dame v Navy] game. If it’s going to be Ireland, it will more likely be 2013.