Aviva rebranded for Europa final


The visit of one overseas visitor to Ireland has overshadowed the fact that 28,000 other foreign visitors have started arriving in the country.

The Europa League final in the Aviva Stadium, renamed the Dublin Arena for the night, may not compete with the Queen’s visit for coverage in Ireland or in the UK, but is likely to attract a much bigger international audience overseas.

A television audience of between 40 and 60 million worldwide, based on previous finals, is expected to watch the match even if the meeting of the Portuguese teams is not what the organisers would have hoped for when Dublin was first chosen as the venue for this year’s final in 2009.

It will be the biggest television event stated to date in Ireland with 40 cameras worth €75 million covering the game. For the first time in an Irish stadium, spider cams, which give a panoramic view of the play, have been installed.

A total of 54 different international broadcasters will be covering the event, but TV3 are the host broadcasters. TV3 chief executive David McRedmond said the Europa League final will attract a foreign television audience far in excess of that for the Queen’s visit.

The first of the fans arrived on charters this afternoon at Dublin airport.

Among them was the Mayor of Braga Mesquita Machado, who encouraged Irish people to get behind Braga, much the smaller of the two clubs in the final. Their neighbours Porto are the overwhelming favourites, having won the Portuguese league by an unprecidented 21 points.

“The Irish are nice, I know they will help us,” the mayor said. “We can start celebrating now because we are already here.”

He expressed the hope that the supporters of both teams would behave themselves. Though Braga and Porto are just 48km apart, they do not share a bitter rivalry like Benfica and Porto do and there is no threat of violence.

The mayor said he was so confident Braga would progress to the final that he booked his hotel room in Dublin before the semi-final against the other Portuguese giants Benfica.

It has been a remarkable journey for a club with an average attendance of just 18,000 who have only won one trophy in their existence, the Portuguese Cup back in 1966.

The transformation and rebranding of the Aviva Stadium has been completed.

All advertising logos have been replaced by one for the Spanish car manufacturer Seat, the Europa League sponsors.

All references to its erstwhile name have been removed, including the white seating which spell out the name Aviva have been moved around.

UEFA is hopeful of a sellout, although there appears to be plenty of tickets left on sale and more were handed out to schoolchildren at a UEFA-sponsored tournament today.

FC Porto have sold out their allocation of 12,000 tickets with another 3,000 Porto fans coming from the large Portuguese diaspora throughout Europe.

Braga are only bringing 3,000 fans for the biggest game in the club’s history. “We are in a very difficult economic situation. Irish people understand,” a club spokesman said.

The Braga fans are going to be matched by UEFA officials and sponsors who account for another 3,000 tickets. A further 6,000 neutrals are coming from overseas and 10,000 tickets are being sold at home.

FAI spokesman Declan Conroy said he had been to Shakhtar Donetsk and Werder Bremen in the 2009 decider and the final last year in Hamburg between Atletico Madrid and Fulham and both had been “cracking nights”.

“It doesn’t matter who’s in the game. In sport the occasion generates the sense of importance and specialness,” he said.

All of the Portuguese fans will be coming from the one airport in Porto and the vast majority will be coming in on the morning of the final and leaving in the early hours of Thursday morning from Dublin.