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Citi Field to host hurling tournament

The Irish sport of hurling will come to Citi Field in Queens, New York, home of Major League Baseball’s New York Mets, in November following a deal between Fenway Sports Management and Metropolitan Hospitality to stage a four-team tournament there.

FSM, the sports marketing firm that is part of Fenway Sports Group, and Metropolitan Hospitality, which manages non-Mets game business at Citi Field, will stage the New York Hurling Classic on Nov. 16 involving teams from Kilkenny, Limerick, Tipperary, and Wexford in Ireland in partnership with the Gaelic Athletic Association and Gaelic Players Association.

The effort follows three prior hurling events FSM staged at Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts, in 2015, 2017, and 2018. The teams at the Citi Field will compete for the Players Champions Cup, which was introduced at the 2017 hurling event in Boston. The latest effort will mark the first hurling competition at Citi Field in its 10-year history.

FSM’s special events team will manage the logistics and promotion of the Citi Field event.

Mark Lev, FSM president, said the entry into the New York market with hurling is buttressed in part by work the GAA and GPA has already done there. Supporters’ groups already exist in the city and the GPA holds an annual gala in New York.

“There is a good base of support for the sport in the market, and we are enthused about the opportunities coming into New York with hurling,” Lev said.

Irish carrier Aer Lingus has been designated as the official airline of the New York Hurling Classic, also continuing a relationship the company had during the Boston hurling competitions. FSM is also selling sponsorships in other categories, with subsequent deals to be announced as the event approaches.

Ticket sales for the New York event will begin Aug. 28, and Lev said he is projecting crowds at least as large as the nearly 28,000 in attendance for each of the 2015 and 2017 hurling events at Fenway Park. The 2018 edition in Boston drew considerably less with an announced attendance of 12,674.

Media plans for the event are still in development, both for the US and Ireland. Prior hurling events in Boston were shown on Irish public broadcaster TG4 and Fenway Sports Group’s US regional sports network, the New England Sports Network (NESN).

Hurling has ancient Gaelic and Irish roots dating back more than 4,000 years, and the sport contains several similarities to lacrosse and field hockey. The sport is a throwback within the modern realm of sports business, as GAA athletes are amateurs and play only for their home counties in Ireland. 

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