NFL eyes games in Spain and France amid international growth

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MUNICH — The NFL wants to continue its European tour now that Germany has joined Britain in hosting games.

Spain and France are at the top of the league’s wish list as it continues to seek revenue growth internationally.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers beat the Seattle Seahawks 21-16 on Sunday at Allianz Arena – a first for Germany under a four-year contract the league hopes to extend long term. London has hosted regular season matches since 2007.

Beyond Germany, who could also get extra games soon, the league’s analysis of fan growth and commercial potential puts Spain and France “very much on our radar”, said Brett Gosper, NFL UK and Europe manager, to The Associated Press in an interview.

“We have to do our homework to make sure there is the possibility of a place to land all the games in these markets, to assess the interest of the host stadiums, to assess the interest of the host city, even of the government, as to their enthusiasm for helping us bring a game,” Gosper said.

Spain have a slight advantage as the Chicago Bears and Miami Dolphins now have “home marketing” rights in the country. The NFL has shared international rights to interested teams spanning 10 countries including Australia, Brazil, Canada, Germany, Ghana, Mexico and the United Kingdom. No team has rights in France.

“When you know that there are teams operating in [the international rights program]you want to look at the prospect and the viability of potentially having games in those markets at some point,” Gosper said.

There are five international games this season: three in London, one in Munich and one in Mexico City on Monday when the Arizona Cardinals take on the San Francisco 49ers.

International expansion was one of the reasons the NFL added Game 17 to the schedule. The league has committed to playing four international games each season, and teams are required to play a “home” away game once every eight seasons.

Outside of this commitment, a team with rights in a country may choose to play home games there, as the Jacksonville Jaguars do in London. The Jags have played in the British capital nine times and currently have a three-year contract to play an annual ‘home’ fixture at the 90,000-seat Wembley Stadium.

“A team could choose to do that. It’s a real possibility but again not imminent,” Gosper said.

“Certainly in the next six to 12 months we will really test the viability of our options from a stadium perspective – not just in Europe but elsewhere – and at the same time, in parallel, we will see what the appetite is for that clubs are potentially tapping into those markets with a game.”

In Spain, Real Madrid’s Santiago Bernabéu stadium is undergoing major renovations which will include a football pitch that retracts to make way for an artificial turf pitch that can be used for American football with a capacity of over 80,000. . Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, which has a long-term agreement with the NFL to host London matches, has a similar system. Atlético Madrid’s Wanda Metropolitano stadium can accommodate 68,000 people.

The Camp Nou is Europe’s largest football stadium with a capacity of 99,000, but Barcelona are planning to launch a long-delayed renovation project that will last until 2026. The city’s Montjuic Olympic Stadium can seat around 56,000 seats and was the former home of the NFL’s Barcelona Dragons. European league.

Gosper said there were “a lot of synergies” with Spain given the NFL’s large Spanish-speaking fanbase. Nine teams have marketing rights in Mexico.

The Stade de France, just north of Paris, has a capacity of just over 80,000 seats for football matches.

“France is a bit outside of that, and it’s its own market and its own culture,” Gosper said, “but at the same time it’s an incredibly strong sports media market where the returns could be higher. higher and faster than Spain.

“Those are two very healthy media markets, healthy sports markets, strong metrics for our streaming platform as well as our consumer sales. strong potential.”

Elsewhere in Europe, the Nordic markets would be next and “Sweden in particular,” Gosper said. The largest stadium in the country, Friends Arena, has 50,000 spectators.

In August 1988, the Bears faced the Minnesota Vikings in a preseason game at Ullevi Stadium in Gothenburg.


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