Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Creating Opportunity for Expanded Sports Tourism to Ireland – Sport for Business

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Park and ride facilities, potable water and family friendly fan zones are the three things exercising Elaine O’Connor who took on the role of Ryder Cup Coordinator at Limerick City and County Councils only one week after the Ryder Cup in Rome last September.

She was speaking at the Sport for Business Sports Tourism event last week at the University of Limerick.

2027 at Adare Manor will be the tournament centenary, adding lustre to an event that will bring over 250,000 high spending golf fans from around the world.

“Park and Ride will be the only way in unless you’re in a helicopter,” she said, and there will be plenty of them.

Getting enough water to hydrate that number of visitors will be a challenge but the Ryder Cup playbook is a heavyweight tome and it will be heading for Limerick via the next chapter on the Bethpage Black course on Long Island New York in 2025.

A packed room at the University also heard from Philip Quinn of Munster Rugby on the value of bringing big games to the province with the publication of the Pinergy backed Economic Value report into the Crusaders game.

We also chatted about the domestic tourism value and the reduced numbers of fans from Limerick that travel to Cork and vice versa now that a strong second base is being established for the games at Thomond Park and SuperValu Páirc Uí Chaoimh as well as Virgin Media Park alongside the traditional base of Thomond Park.

The latter is going nowhere though with November’s game between Munster and the All Blacks selling out in minutes.

The Aer Lingus College Football Classic was on the agenda as well with Commercial Director Brendan Meehan talking through the appetite of US fans to travel with their team and stay longer term than most sporting visitors.

The game between Florida State University and Georgia Tech will have 20,000 travelling fans and has already sold the best part of that again in the domestic market a full five months out from game day.

Kevin Quinn and Brian King told us the story of setting up UL to host the Davis Cup this February, light metres, Austrian Ultra’s and all and we also heard about how the campus had hosted multiple European and World Championships.

It has almost 3,000 beds on the campus which are commercially on the market for hosting events and letting competitors and fans stay at a reasonable rate, a bonus which has been a factor in the success of David Ward and the team in attracting events.

We heard from Olympians Sarah Lavin and Roisín Upton in an engaging chat about what they hope for, expect and are occasionally given in terms of their own arrangements at major events, from sharing rooms to provision of restaurant facilities and all the 1000’s of small things that go into great performance.

There was a great room of attendees from across the Tourism sector and from multiple different sporting bodies and a definite enthusiasm to bring this group and a wider one together on a more regular basis to learn from each other and share experience.


The University of Limerick, Ryder Cup Europe, the Aer Lingus College Football Classic, Munster Rugby and Tennis Ireland are full members of the Sport for Business community.
The Sport for Business Membership is made up of nearly 300 organisations including all of the leading sports and sponsors, commercial and state agencies. Find out more about joining them today.
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