Last week Matt Cooper interviewed Commercial Director of the GAA, Peter McKenna on The Last Word and asked him about the upcoming Croke Park Classic which is due to be held at the Dublin venue on Saturday 30th of August 2014. For those unfamiliar with the event, the Croke Park Classic or Emerald Isle Classic, as it was originally known, was the first National Collegiate Atheletic Assocation-sanctioned American college football game to be played in Europe. This year’s installment will be the fifth time teams have competed for the Dan Rooney Trophy, with previous games held in 1988, 1989, 1996 and 2012. Fans will have the chance to see the University of Central Florida take on Penn State University.
During the interview Mr McKenna estimated that 16,000 visitors would travel to the game from the US, a further 4,000 from Europe, with the remaining 35,000 spectators from Ireland. He suggested Dublin “was probably looking at a 30 million economic generator here” (one must assume he means euros).
€30 million seems like an awfully large figure for one game, especially when around 65% of those attending the game will probably be Irish. Let’s see if we can figure out where this estimate has come from.
Using CSO data from 2009 to 2013 we can estimate the average "expenditure of overseas travellers in Ireland" over a five year period. Excluding airfare, the average tourist spent roughly €470 per visit. Including airfare, this rises to €577. The CSO breaks down international arrivals into three categories: (1) Holiday/Leisure/Recreation, (2) Visit to Friends/Relatives and (3) Business. This analysis assumes that the 20,000 international visitors attending Croke Park fall into category (1). Excluding airfare, the average spend per visit by those coming for Holiday/Leisure/Recreation was €550 per person. As mentioned in the interview, the expected attendance at the game is 55,000 spectators, resulting in an economic stimulus of €30 million. Get this, €550 x 55,000 = €30,250,000.
I hope this is not where the €30 million figure comes from. Firstly, it does not take into account that around 65% of those at the game will be Irish. Secondly, it fails to consider the length of stay. The average length of stay in Ireland from 2009-2013 was 6.9 days. Whether this would hold for visitors (many of whom may be university students) coming for a single match is unclear. However, assuming we follow the averages, the 20,000 international visitors to Ireland for the Croke Park Classic are likely to generate just over €11,000,000 for the Irish economy. The remaining Irish fans will boost the local (Dublin) economy if they are travelling to the game from outside the capital. Dubs in attendance will add close to nothing. They are simply substituting their spending from one activity to another.
Of course, the €30 million figure may have been extrapolated by other means, and could well be accurate. I would be delighted if workings on this estimation could be provided.