The Pittsburgh Steelers were awarded rights to expand their brand and activities for the Republic of Ireland & Northern Ireland, as part of the NFL's 'Global Markets Program', it was announced by the National Football League on May 23, 2023
"We are excited to have been granted the rights to engage more deeply with our fans in Ireland," Steelers President Art Rooney II said. "My family has deep roots throughout Ireland and being able to connect with our fans across the Island is something special to our organization. My father did so much in Ireland during his lifetime, first as one of the founders of the Ireland Funds, then as Ambassador. We look forward to growing our fan base and the love of American football in the years to come."
Pittsburgh can carry out in-person activities such as fan and youth football activities throughout Ireland. The 'Global Markets Program' license also enables the Steelers to partake in corporate sponsorship and merchandise sales, as well as co-marketing relationships throughout the island of Ireland.
"We are thrilled the Pittsburgh Steelers have been awarded the marketing and commercial rights to the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland," said Brett Gosper, Head of NFL Europe & UK. "With their deep roots and heritage, the Steelers make for a fantastic partner in helping to grow and engage with the passionate NFL fan base across the island of Ireland. Growing the game globally is a major strategic priority for the League and 32 clubs, and the 'Global Markets Program' will continue to help accelerate the momentum and interest in our sport around the world."
Dublin's Croke Park played host to the Steelers and Chicago Bears preseason game in 1997, still the only NFL game to ever be played in Ireland. The game was made possible in large part to the Steelers late Chairman, Dan Rooney. Rooney's ties with Ireland were notable, as he served as the United States Ambassador to Ireland from 2009-2012. He also helped establish the Ireland Funds, a program founded to promote and support peace, culture, education and community development across Ireland and among Irish communities around the world.
Rooney also worked to further the knowledge of the game of football throughout Ireland, efforts that included an annual flag football contest.
This 'Global Markets Program' 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. The team has already launched dedicated Irish social media accounts and intends to hold its first in-market event this upcoming season by hosting a fan watch party. As part of its long-term planning, the team aspires to return to the island to play an NFL game.
As part of the 'Global Markets Program' initiative, NFL clubs have access to international markets for at least a five-year term, during which a club has the rights to pursue activities in that international market that are consistent with what they can do in their home market.
Following the granting of the 'Global Markets Program' for Ireland, the Steelers are looking to host a series of events for new and existing fans such as watch parties and flag football events, and will work to connect Ireland with Pittsburgh.
ABOUT THE PITTSBURGH STEELERS
The fifth-oldest franchise in the NFL, the Pittsburgh Steelers were founded on July 8, 1933, by Arthur Joseph Rooney. Pittsburgh is among the most successful franchises in League history. The Steelers have won six Super Bowl titles, tied for the most in the NFL, and appeared in eight overall. Pittsburgh has also participated in 16 conference title games, which are the second-most in the League. The Steelers have played in, and won, more playoff games than any other franchise in NFL history. Pittsburgh has had 36 former players, coaches or contributors inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
ABOUT THE NFL 'GLOBAL MARKETS PROGRAM'
The 'Global Markets Program', which launched in January 2022, 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.