It’s hard to imagine what a Ryder Cup could be like in a country that is experiencing the tourism boom of a lifetime. After all, 10,000 Irish citizens booked trips to America in September alone. And during a time of dramatically rising incomes and prospects for economic development, Ireland now has opportunities that other economies, like Portugal, have yet to find. That means plenty of wealth and resources to spend on sponsoring some of the globe’s most prestigious sporting events.
In the last 20 years, Ireland has become a major sports market and world-class destination for both domestic and international spectators, whether they’re fans of Gaelic Athletics or cats. And to the credit of Gaelic Athletic Association, it’s done so on its own. In the past year, the organization has signed a jersey sponsorship deal with Guinness and has invested tens of millions of euros in Gaelic Athletics so that we can host two annual festivals and many marquee games.
The sport’s biggest tournament, the European Ryder Cup, takes place in September, followed the next month by the United States Open in Wisconsin, putting extra pressure on the GAA to host them all and ensure that it’s well covered. That’s why the GAA is currently hosting an 11-day international event in the Shannon region, playing semifinal and final matches.
The Irish are also behind the 2018 Ryder Cup in the States and have their eyes on the 2022 Ryder Cup at Sherwood Forest in Pennsylvania. Still, the GAA is relatively new to the sponsorship business and has had to get used to the rigors of challenging for the top tier.
A World Cup Football Game
“The GAA didn’t used to have any money in the mid-80s, but we started hosting large events at the earliest, in association with supermarkets, big banks and the like, so we could pay for the expenses and cover the costs,” says Michael Fuchs, the chief executive of the GAA’s Marketing, Sponsorship and Communications Commission. He says that now, the organization is “very, very competitive for these major events.”
When choosing the venues, of course, the GAA chooses projects that are professional, sustainable and fit with the GAA’s objective to put out a good product, he said. “Adare Manor will allow us to test the development of the key economic sectors of the Republic of Ireland and the twin cities of Dublin and Cork. It will give us the opportunity to showcase this destination and tap into market trends around Brexit.”
The Irish government is paying for Adare Manor’s development with an assistance package worth about 15 million euros (roughly $17 million) from the Sustainable Development and Tourism (SDT) Fund. The 2016 Irish budget allocated more than $129 million to that fund, which is mandated to promote innovation.
The Future of American Football
In addition to the various FIFA and UEFA tournaments Ireland is hosting over the next five years, there is a long-term development of American football. “Ireland played major role in the evolution of the game in the 1960s and ’70s when it produced sporting stars like Johnny Rodgers, who went on to play for the New York Giants,” says Fuchs. “And now Ireland has the ability to foster and develop modern American football.”