Steelers in Ireland

Steelers in Ireland

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Daniel M. Rooney

Daniel M. Rooney

Learn about the late Steelers President Dan Rooney and his special relationship with the island of Ireland


About the Steelers, Ireland & the NFL's 'Global Markets Program'

What is the NFL’s ‘Global Markets Program’?

The 'Global Markets Program', which launched in January 2022 as the International Home Marketing Areas (IHMA), grants NFL clubs access to international markets for marketing, fan engagement and commercialization activations as part of an important, long-term strategic effort to enable clubs to build their brands globally while driving NFL fan growth beyond the US.

NFL clubs can apply for rights to selected international markets by submitting proposals for the International Committee to review each Spring. Clubs are awarded rights for at least a five-year term through the program. During this period, a club has the rights to pursue activities in that international market that are consistent with what they can do in their home market.

Why did the Steelers apply for a ‘Global Markets Programs’ license in Ireland?

There are a number of reasons why the Steelers decided to make this initiative across the Island of Ireland a priority. The Rooney family emigrated from Ireland in the 1840s and their Irish roots have remained important to them. Current Steelers President Art Rooney II became the first member of the Rooney Family to visit Northern Ireland since the family emigrated in 1840 when he visited there in the early 1970s. Former Steelers Chairman Dan Rooney and his wife, Patricia, spent a great deal of their time giving back to Ireland and worked hard to help make it a better place, whether that be through establishing The Ireland Funds or his work as the U.S. Ambassador to Ireland. He also drove the decision to play an NFL game in Ireland in 1997. Mrs. Patricia Rooney, whose family emigrated from County Mayo in the 1920s, was a guiding force in the establishment of the Rooney Prize for Irish Literature.

When the NFL created the opportunity for all teams to become active in international markets, Ireland was on the team's short list. This license will enable the Steelers to bring back some of the traditions and initiatives instituted by Dan Rooney, as well as to bring some new ones forward.

What does this mean for Ireland?

The NFL's 'Global Markets Program' allows the Steelers to be active across the island of Ireland. Over the coming year, the Steelers plan to re-launch an initiative started by Dan Rooney years ago, flag football. Flag is a part of the team's overall international strategy and is easy to play for young people of all ages. The Steelers also plan to enact other events, including watch parties and other football education experiences.

The team is roughly two years into its NFL's 'Global Markets Program' in Mexico, and in that time, has held several in-market draft celebrations, a kicking clinic for both professional football players as well as young people, a pair of youth flag events, a large-scale watch party in Mexico City, as well as a business summit with members of the business community. We'll look to bring similar initiatives to Ireland; and plan to be thoughtful and intentional about how they are introduced.

Will the Steelers play a game in Ireland?

We are at the beginning of our journey in Ireland as part of the NFL's 'Global Markets Program' and much more research and planning needs to be done in this area. However, as part of our long-term planning, we aspire to return to the island to play an NFL game.

Will the Steelers bring players to Ireland?

The Steelers plan is to host events and activities in Ireland that will engage fans and current and former players are a part of that strategy.