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Rooney wants Steelers to play game in Ireland

| Wednesday, June 20, 2012, 8:44 p.m.

Entrenched in his role as U.S. Ambassador to Ireland but with his mind never far from Pittsburgh, Dan Rooney expressed interest this week in bringing an NFL regular-season game — and the Steelers — to the Emerald Isle.

In an interview with BBC Northern Ireland Sports, the influential Steelers chairman emeritus said he has discussed the prospect with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell.

“Sometime soon it would be good, and I think the commissioner would be interested in working something out,” Rooney said. “I'd like to see the Steelers involved, and if it could be worked out by the league, we would enjoy doing it.”

With the NFL filling London's soccer haven, Wembley Stadium, for one regular-season game each year since 2007 — part of the league's International Series — Rooney said he could envision the same happening at Dublin's Croke Park, an 82,500-seat venue that an NFL delegation visited last year.

“(The International Series) has proven very, very successful. In fact, that game sells out almost as soon as they put the tickets up,” he said. “The interest (in Dublin) in sports is, as it is in London, quite strong.”

The Steelers already have played a game in Croke Park, defeating Chicago in a 1997 preseason game. That was when the league often played exhibition games overseas as part of the American Bowl series.

Mark Waller, the NFL's chief marketing officer, acknowledged the challenges of traveling long distance.

“When we bring a team over, we are bringing over at least 150 personnel. That's for each team,” Waller told the BBC. “That's a massive infrastructural move, and — I want to stress this — with these overseas games, it also is in the middle of our season. So the logistics and planning side are key to the decision.”

Dan Stefano is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at dstefano@tribweb.com or 412-380-5697.

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