UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS (WCIA) — Illinois football fans will have one less chance to tailgate in Grange Grove in the future. For one game, they are taking the team to Ireland for a game as part of the Aer Lingus College Football Series .
The Illini will play Nebraska in Dublin in 2021. It will be the first ever international game for the program. Dublin’s Lord Mayor Paul McAuliffe was in Champaign Monday to help make the announcement. He says his city is excited to host.
“There’s a great love for college football,” says McAuliffe. “Of course they see it in U.S. media and they have a greater attachment to it. And they also love the color that it brings. You can’t get over it.”
But are Illini fans included in that excitement? The team will be losing a home game in 2021 to have the game overseas. But there’s a chance the Illini will get to play for a bigger audience on TV. College GameDay has already announced they will cover the 2020 version of the game in Ireland. Some young fans say they would be interested in going.
“I’ve always wanted to go overseas to Europe somewhere,” says UI freshman Kaden Henze. “Ireland is always a really fun place to go so I’d definitely look into getting a ticket to go. Maybe, if that was available.”
But one of the Illini’s biggest fans is not sold. Thomas Scaggs has an entire guest house covered in team memorabilia. He will be skipping the trip to Ireland. He thinks getting Illinois fans to turnout could be difficult.
“We have some trouble getting fans to go a couple blocks to go to a game here,” says Scaggs. “How are you going to get them to Ireland? I doubt there’s a lot of alumni sitting in Dublin ready for this game.”
Illinois’s highest attendance of 2019 so far came in their game against Nebraska. Over 44,000 people were there. If both schools can find a way to get that many people to Dublin, it would be very close to a packed house.