Notre Dame and Navy are slated to once again square off in Dublin in August 2023, a game that was originally scheduled for 2020 but was postponed for pandemic related reasons. The Fighting Irish dominated in their last match up on Irish soil, defeating the Midshipmen on a scoreline of 50 – 10. Next year’s game however, will be a little different. Why? It’s going to be a Notre Dame home game.
Now I can hear you thinking to yourself; why does it matter who the home team is? Well, Notre Dame home games are just special. There is such a rich history and tradition that comes as part of the Notre Dame gameday. Tailgating outside the stadium, lining the avenue to greet the players as they walk from their pregame mass service, getting in early to listen to the band… All the things that make a football Saturday in South Bend so memorable and unique. All the things that they are unlikely to be able to replicate on this side of the Atlantic. For the football team to forgo their long established rituals adds another level of significance to this matchup.
Pre Match pageantry aside, there is another massive reason why moving a Notre Dame home game to Dublin was so unexpected. Money. Each home game is worth millions of dollars to the football program and the university. As an independent athletics program ( Notre Dame football is currently not affiliated with any conference) they are free to negotiate their own broadcasting fees. The University currently has an exclusive multimillion dollar agreement in place with NBC and its new proprietary online streaming platform Peacock, to show football games . There’s no way that this goes ahead as a home game for the Irish without approval from the powers that be at NBC. The postgame viewing figures will give a pretty good picture of how many fans back home in the US got out of bed early to watch. TV rights aside, the University (and the town in which it resides) rely heavily on the influx of spending fans 6 weekends a year. So, to give even one of these up is a pretty big deal.
When we consider these factors, you can be sure that Notre Dame is expecting a remarkable return on the decision to relocate their first home game of the 2023 season. Having the Fighting Irish as the home team in Ireland is a surefire way to jack up the interest and excitement surrounding the game. To have such a high profile college football program commit a home game to a foreign country is a massive development for the popularity of the sport here, and is a good omen for future games. When the official announcement comes, we can expect lot’s of “diddly eye” themed promotions, shamrocks and the whole shebang. And we’re absolutely fine with this, because it means we’ll get to attend a Notre Dame home game on home soil. And while there is already a game taking place here this year, we’re already looking forward to welcoming the Fighting Irish home in 2023!