NFL to Play Games in Canada, Mexico, Germany, U.K. Through 2011
By Aaron Kuriloff
Oct. 24 (Bloomberg) -- The National Football League will schedule one regular-season game outside the United States next season, and as many as two every year from 2008 to 2011, in what the league's top official described as an effort to expose more fans in Europe and North America to the sport.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said the league's 32 owners overwhelmingly approved the plan at their fall meeting in New Orleans because allowing fans to see football live would help broaden the sport's profile and open new markets.
``The focus is Mexico, Canada and Europe,'' Goodell said.
Mark Waller, senior vice president of NFL International, said the league hadn't decided which teams would leave the U.S. to play. Games would be held in the U.K., Canada, Mexico or Germany, he added.
Teams that play outside the U.S. during the regular season will not play the following week, according to the owners' resolution. Each team involved will play at home the week before traveling and the league will compensate teams for any losses in transportation costs and gate receipts.
In 2005, the Arizona Cardinals and San Francisco 49ers played a regular-season game in Mexico City, the first held outside the U.S. A crowd of 103,467 people filled Azteca Stadium to watch, the largest crowd for a regular-season game in league history.
The NFL also has played 40 preseason games outside the U.S. since 1986 and has scheduled a preseason game between the New England Patriots and the Seattle Seahawks for Aug. 8, 2007, at Beijing Workers Stadium. China Central Television is scheduled to broadcast the game live.
Goodell said the league would start accepting bids from prospective host sites and planned to conclude that process early in 2007.
``There are competitive issues,'' he said. ``There are logistical issues. We recognize those issues. But we're talking about a game that we think will have tremendous impact.''