The Alabama Crimson Tide have enjoyed the privilege of playing in some of the nation’s most interesting venues over the past couple years.
From the Rose Bowl to pro venues like the Mercedes Superdome, Sun Life Stadium, the Georgia Dome and Cowboys Stadium; Tide players have graced the fields that most would only dream of walking on.
But could this laundry list of great venues soon extend outside of the United States? One college football’s most storied programs announced on Sunday that a trip outside the country will soon become a reality.
Josh Moyer of ESPN’s NittanyNation reports that both Penn State and the University of Central Florida have finalized a deal to open the 2014 football season in Dublin, Ireland.
We are thrilled to announce that we will play UCF at Croke Park to open the 2014 season,” Bill O’Brien said in the release. “Our players and coaches are so excited to go to Ireland and play a college football game in such a historic and outstanding venue. I have great respect for coach [George] O’Leary and his team, and playing UCF in Ireland will be a fantastic experience for all the players, coaches and fans.
So, for the first time in 127 years, the Penn State Nittany Lions will travel abroad to play a college football game.
With such an iconic program stepping out to test the international waters, could a team like Alabama be next in line? Although this is certainly unlikely, it’s not out of the question.
Keep in mind, Alabama was the first team to participate in the Chick-fil-a Kickoff Classic against Clemson back in 2008. Nick Saban has proven year after year that he believes in scheduling a top team to start off the season.
The 2013 season marks Alabama’s third trip to Atlanta for the Chick-fil-a Kickoff Classic. The Tide is 2-0 in Kickoff Classic games, defeating Clemson in 2008 and Virginia Tech in 2009.
Big time opening weekend games have become a staple in college football in recent years due to the success of ticket sales and media attention.
Don’t expect to see teams like Alabama venturing outside of the country anytime soon, but it could open the door for smaller teams to get their moment in the limelight.
Dublin’s Croke Park isn’t the only non-football venue looking to capitalize on college football’s success. The world renowned Daytona International Speedway recently broke ground on a renovation project that could make the venue suitable for football games. The project isn’t expected to be completed until January 2016, and will expand the raceway’s seating capacity to over 101,000.
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