Notre Dame’s Shamrock Series is about to take a break. The yearly staple—set for San Antonio in 2016—is likely to take a year off as the Irish prepare to move into the fully-renovated Notre Dame Stadium in 2017.
With the $400-million Campus Crossroads project expected to be finished by then, athletic director Jack Swarbrick discussed the value of keeping a seventh home game on campus, eschewing the annual neutral-site game.
Swarbrick spoke to ESPN’s Heather Dinich at the College Football Playoff’s spring meetings:
“In all likelihood we will not do one in ’17, because that’s the opening of the Crossroads and we want to maximize the number of home games, but we anticipate doing it in subsequent years,” Swarbrick said. “It’s been phenomenal. We have a lot of people who annually target that game and make it one where they get together with former classmates and really plan their years around it. It’s been good.”
Notre Dame’s schedule has been a subject of much debate. After former athletic director Kevin White‘s troubled 7-4-1 scheduling paradigm made it difficult to find partners (especially throughout conference realignment), Swarbrick took over the athletic department and adjusted the Irish’s scheduling parameters. The result was, surprisingly, one less home game—leaving potential revenue on the table while keeping the Shamrock Series in place.
That decision highlights some of the benefits of the barnstorming tour that’s historically in Notre Dame football’s DNA. It’s also allowed Irish fans to have iconic experiences, Yankee Stadium, Soldier Field, last year’s Fenway Park visit, all stemming from the unorthodox decision to play Washington State in San Antonio way back in 2009.
“I wasn’t sure we could brand it successfully, that it would develop its own identity, so that’s probably been the biggest surprise in that it has done that more than I thought it would,” Swarbrick told UND.com back in 2013. “I knew given our national following, and the commitment of the university in so many ways, I knew logistically and operationally it would work great but to what level it would be embraced was my concern.”
Expect the Shamrock Series back in 2018. But a 2017 slate that expects visits from headliners like Georgia, Michigan State and USC will benefit from a seventh home game.