NOTEBOOK: Cyclones heading to Ireland, expected fan attendance & financials

(From left) Bill Byrne of Aer Lingus, Iowa State football head coach Matt Campbell, Iowa State athletic director Jamie Pollard, Kevin Byrne, consulate general of Ireland, Chicago, and John Anthony of Aer Lingus College Football Classic pose with the trophy after a press conference about the Aer Lingus College Football Classic Iowa State vs Kansas State in Ireland at Stark Performance Center on Thursday, May 15, 2024, in Ames, Iowa.

Iowa State Athletics hosted its press conference for its 2025 trip to the Aer Lingus College Football Classic in Ireland, on Thursday.

Officials from the game joined Iowa State athletics director Jamie Pollard and head football coach Matt Campbell to talk about just what the game holds.

“This is an opportunity for our institution, to be able to go internationally spread our wings, and be able to show the world how Iowa State University represents,” Pollard said of the showcase.

The Cyclones will open the 2025 college football season against rival Kansas State on Saturday, August 23 – as better known as ‘week zero.’

Just what do the financials look like from Iowa State’s end?

“For starters, this is K-state’s home game,” Pollard said. “So, a lot of credit to Gene Taylor, their athletic director and Chris Klieman, their football coach, for agreeing to give up a home game. That’s a big lift, and to be very candid, if the roles were reversed, it might not have been quite as (easy of a decision).”

The event’s contract includes provided charters for Iowa State to transport its team – and Pollard said plans include having the marching band and spirt squad on the trip, as well.

“There is a value to not having to go play a road game in Manhattan in ’25,” Pollard said. “We would have spent money to go to Manhattan, right? But somewhere in there, you have to assign a value to the fact that we’re going to play one less road game in the conference schedule. What’s the value of that at the end of the year? Because it could make a difference between winning or losing that game and what that does.”

Pollard said that Iowa State and Kansas State have been talking about an arrangement that each school brings the same number of marching band members, which he also pointed out was an added cost of the trip.

The composition of the teams, along with the history of the rivalry and intraconference matchup, also played a factor in the selection of the programs.

“Both have young quarterbacks that should be back again in 25,” Aer Lingus College Football Classic Co-Founder John Anthony said. “So everything sets up sets up really well. The stage that it provides (Iowa State) on the national and international level is huge. The week-zero, extra exposure is real.”

The Aer Lingus Classic organizers are expecting a sellout.

“It’s become a bit of a must-see, must-attend event. “We had a sellout in the 2023 game, we’ve got a sellout coming for the 2024 game and we certainly expect a sell out with (Iowa State vs. Kansas State). And your game is probably uniquely a sell out and that we really were looking forward to seeing who has more fans there. No. It’s a rivalry game.”

The Aer Lingus Classic hosted its first Ireland game in 2016, and has since hosted two more games in 2022 and 2023 at Dublin’s Aviva Stadium.

Farmageddon ’25 will be the 10th college football game to be played in Ireland, and since the showcase moved to the week zero timeslot, it’s grown in popularity. College GameDay is set to host its first show of the year on the game this season, which only boosts the exposure for each program further.

“We’ve averaged 4 million viewers in the game since we went to week zero years ago,” Anthony said. “And we’re seeing it already. ESPN has already talked about bringing College GameDay overseas this August for the first time ever outside the US.”

The event’s goals include bringing the Saturday morning show to Ireland again in 2025.

What will attendance be like?

Iowa State fans are known to travel well – it’s one of the lasting impressions that has held true about the fan base over the past 10 years that consisted of pseudo-city takeovers in Kansas City, Memphis and San Antonio before that.

Although the program has not ever played a football game outside of the United States, Pollard is confident that attendance from the fan base will see a number around 12-to-15,000.

“We’ve been on the tailgate tour in the last three days, and both coach (Campbell) and I have (been) just amazed at the number of people that have said, ‘We’re going,'” Pollard said. “I have no doubt in my mind that there’ll be 12-to-15,000 cyclone fans in Dublin in August of ’25, really representing our institution in a first class way.”

The Aer Lingus Classic was first made aware of the Iowa State fan base during the 2018 Alamo Bowl.

“But we’ve also got experience with your fans,” Anthony said. “You’ve got a remarkable reputation for following loyalty and following your team everywhere they go. We saw it most vividly in San Antonio, at the Alamo bowl back in 2018. And what we saw with your takeover of San Antonio pales in comparison to what I think we’ll see in Dublin.

“Why Iowa State,’ is really simple – it’s the right combination of football quality and fan quantity,” Anthony said. “So that’s what we’re looking for. I talked about obviously, where (Iowa State) is projected how your team is performing, and what you’ve got going as long as coach Campbell has been here. That’s a dream come true for us.”