Last week, the National Football League announced the addition of a regular season game to the 2021 schedule. The addition of a regular season game means one more week to enjoy the NFL! The league did include a caveat for future games: four international games every season starting in 2022. The NFL skipped its annual jaunts to locations such as London and Mexico City for obvious reasons in 2020. (Feel free to Exit Stage Right anytime, #CoronaSZN). If you’re looking to follow your favorite NFL team to an international location starting in 2022, here are some potential international locations to look at.
Several Canadian cities are potential international locations for NFL games. Upon the announcement of NFL dates, mayors from the cities of Montreal and Vancouver each said they would host an NFL game. I could see Vancouver being a destination. The improvements BC Place underwent for the 2010 Winter Olympics have held up. Montreal has a big enough stadium and – ahem – plenty of entertainment for the players, but the Stade Olympique’s roof is eternally under construction. There are other options, like Edmonton’s Commonwealth Stadium and Toronto’s Rogers Centre. The CFL/XFL merger might put a kink in the plans – if there IS a CFL by then. There has been no resistance from either CFL commissioner Randy Ambrosie or RedBird Capital, though.
One of the untouched regions that could be a potential international location for the NFL is China. The league was set to play the first-ever preseason game in 2007, but it conflicted with the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing. The country has over a billion people and other entertainment companies have made money in that market. The NBA has cornered the market in terms of popularity, but American football is gaining popularity. Will the NFL consider any games in this market? National Stadium in Beijing has a 91,000-person capacity. However, a regular season game in China – or any market in the Eastern Hemisphere – would be a tremendous undertaking. The high risk could mean high reward.
The NFL has been to London on multiple occasions for regular season games. No doubt that the Jacksonville Jaguars – owned by London’s Shahid Khan – make an annual appearance at Wembley Stadium. Football is very popular in Germany. Allianz Arena in Munich or Olympiastadion in Berlin both have the capacity for the NFL. Could the NFL reach other European markets? Paris, Madrid, Barcelona, and even Dublin have each hosted exhibition games in the past, so they could be viable markets to host a regular season trade. The games in London have been successful and additional trips to Europe could also be successful.
Okay, I see you rolling your eyes, but hear me out. Which continent is the last frontier for every sports league in the world? The frozen wasteland of Antarctica! Think about it: an infrastructure built by the league to seat 25,000-30,000 people (and some penguins). Cruises from Argentina to Antarctica and posh accommodations on large cruise ships. The bad news is that the most of the continent’s temperature average during the regular season is between -79F and -20F. That’s on the interior, though. On the coast, it’s a more tepid 13F and 29F. There’s no way the players association approves this. If there’s a way to make a couple of bucks, though, the NFL will find a way.
Football Island – United Arab Emirates
Hey, if it worked for the UFC…