By now you've heard that Notre Dame is coming to Fenway Park in 2015 to take on Boston College. You may have also heard this game referred to as the "Shamrock Series." So, what exactly is a "Shamrock Series?"
What exactly is a "Shamrock Series?"
First, an explanation of how Notre Dame football does its scheduling. Notre Dame AD Jack Swarbrick likes to set the annual schedule in a 6+5+1 format. What that means is that in any given year, Notre Dame wants to have six home games, five road games and one neutral site contest. The "Shamrock Series" is just a silly name for Notre Dame's one neutral site game a year. The Fighting Irish don't "do" neutral site / off-site home games anymore; Notre Dame plays in the "Shamrock Series." Got it?
Going forward, Notre Dame is prioritizing playing traditional rivals USC, Stanford and Navy while remaining contractually obligated to play five ACC games a year. That leaves four more games to schedule: two home and home series (one home, one road), one home game (only) and the Shamrock Series.
How did this whole "Shamrock Series" come about?
This whole thing started off in 2007 when Notre Dame sent a delegation to San Antonio and Dallas to try to work out the details of potential games in those two cities. This laid the groundwork for a 2009 matchup between Notre Dame and Washington State at the Alamodome in San Antonio. Notre Dame won 40-14. That initial trip also got the ball rolling on this past season's game between the Irish and the Arizona State Sun Devils at JerryWorld. Notre Dame won 37-34.
The Irish have played one off-site home game every season since 2009.
What is the history of the "Shamrock Series?"
The Irish are a perfect 5-0.
2009: Notre Dame 40, Washington State 14 (Alamodome, San Antonio, Texas)
2010: Notre Dame 27, Army 3 (Yankee Stadium, Bronx, New York)
2011: Notre Dame 45, Maryland 21 (FedEx Field, Landover, Maryland)
2012: Notre Dame 41, Miami 3 (Soldier Field, Chicago, Illinois)
2013: Notre Dame 37, Arizona State 34 (AT&T Stadium, Arlington, Texas)
Where are these games being played in future seasons?
Next season, Notre Dame will "host" Purdue at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, Indiana on September 13. The following year is the BC-Notre Dame game at Fenway (November 21, 2015 at 7:30 p.m.). In 2016, Notre Dame returns to the Alamodome to face Army on November 12, 2006.
How does this make any sense for Notre Dame?
At face, it might appear a bit foolish to sign up to play some of these teams in their own backyards. However, the "Shamrock Series" allows the Irish to promote the school's brand across the country -- appeasing fans in large alumni pockets -- while avoiding a sixth "road" game in a hostile environment. Since Notre Dame controls the ticket allotment -- remember that despite being played a short T ride away, this is still a Notre Dame "home" game -- the crowds usually end up being pro-Irish despite playing some of these teams extremely close to home (e.g. Army in the Bronx, Maryland in Landover).
Speaking of tickets, how can I get my hand on them?
This will be interesting to keep an eye on as Notre Dame controls the ticket allotment given to the visiting team. Notre Dame will reportedly give Purdue 10,000 seats for next year's game at Lucas Oil Field, "twice the normal visiting-school allotment." Lucas Oil Field seats 62,421 and is expandable to 70,000. With a much smaller venue the following year, I'd expect Boston College to receive the "normal" visiting-school allotment. So ... 5,000? Perhaps even fewer tickets if said "normal" allotment is based on stadium capacity.
This is one of the main drawbacks to agreeing to play in this game.
Will Notre Dame break out special, hideous uniforms for the 2015 "Shamrock Series" vs. Boston College?
Probably. Hope for green jerseys.
What about the 2017 Boston College-Notre Dame game at Alumni Stadium?
I am assuming the 2017 game will be part of the Irish's next ACC schedule rotation. The key of today's announcement is in the messaging. With rumors of the next Boston College-Notre Dame game being moved to Fenway, Bates assured Eagles fans that the Fenway game is actually a Notre Dame home game and the next game would still be a BC home game at Alumni.
And beyond 2017?
It will be interesting to see what comes next. The Irish's next ACC schedule rotation starts in 2017 and lasts for three seasons. Will BC get the extra game in the next Irish rotation and be given the opportunity to play in South Bend in 2018 or 2019, or will that slot go to a team like Pitt? Syracuse got the extra game with Notre Dame over this first schedule cycle. The Orange will play Notre Dame at Metlife Stadium in the Meadowlands in both 2014 and 2016. Those games are not part of the "Shamrock Series" and are home games for New York's College Team (TM).
With Notre Dame releasing its 2014-2016 football schedules, we can expect next year's ACC football schedule to drop soon, right?
Sure, but my guess is we'll still have to wait until February.
Will we ever refer to this game as the "Shamrock Series" from this point forward?
No, no we will not. This is just a BC "road" game at Fenway Park.