MUNICH – The NFL wants to continue its European tour now that Germany has joined Britain in hosting games.
Spain and France top the league’s wish list as it continues to look for revenue growth globally.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers beat the Seattle Seahawks 21-16 at Allianz Arena on Sunday — Germany’s first four-year contract, the longest in the league. London has hosted regular games since 2007.
Beyond Germany, which could soon get more games, the league’s analysis of fan growth and business potential puts Spain and France “highly on our radar,” NFL UK and Europe chief Brett Gosper told The Associated Press in an interview.
“Anywhere we land any game in those markets, we have to do our homework to gauge the interest of the host stadium, gauge the interest of the host city, gauge the interest of the host city, even the government to make sure they’re willing to help. We brought a game,” Gosper said.
Spain has a slight edge, as the Chicago Bears and Miami Dolphins now have “home marketing” rights in the country. The NFL has distributed international rights to teams covering 10 countries, including Australia, Brazil, Canada, Germany, Ghana, Mexico and the United Kingdom.
“When you know that there are groups that move [the international rights program]At some point you want to look at the possibility and feasibility of making games in those markets,” 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 play the San Francisco 49ers.
International expansion is one reason the NFL added a 17th game to its schedule. The league commits to four international games per season, and teams are required to play a “home” game away from home once every eight seasons.
Outside of that commitment, a team with rights in a country can choose to play games at home, like the Jacksonville Jaguars do in London. The Jags have played nine times in the British capital and currently have a three-year contract to play an annual “home” game at the 90,000-seat Wembley Stadium.
“A team could choose to do that. That’s a real possibility, but again, not inevitable,” Gosper said.
“Obviously, over the next six to 12 months we’ll look at the viability of our options from a stadium perspective – not just in Europe but elsewhere – and then at the same time we’ll try to see what the appetite is. Clubs can use those markets game-wise.”
In Spain, Real Madrid’s Santiago Bernabeu stadium is undergoing a major renovation that will include a receding soccer field, a 80,000-plus-capacity artificial turf field used for American soccer. Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, which has a long-term deal with the NFL to host London games, has a similar system. Atlético Madrid’s Wanda Metropolitano stadium seats 68,000.
Camp Nou is Europe’s largest football stadium with a capacity of 99,000, but Barcelona plans to start a long-term renovation project that will last until 2026. The city’s Montjuic Olympic Stadium has 56,000 seats and was the former home of the NFL’s Barcelona Dragons of the Europa League.
Gosper said there are “a lot of synergies” with Spain, given the NFL’s large Spanish-speaking fan base. Nine teams have marketing rights in Mexico.
The Stade de France, north of Paris, has a capacity of over 80,000 for football matches.
Gosper said: “France is a bit outside of that, and it has its own market and culture, but at the same time it is an incredibly strong sports media market where the return can be higher and faster than Spain.
“Two very healthy media markets, healthy sports markets, some strong indicators from our distribution platform as well as consumer sales. When you pull the data out a little bit, those are definitely two markets with high potential.”
Elsewhere in Europe, the Nordic markets will be next and “especially Sweden,” Gosper said. The country’s largest stadium, Friends Arena, can accommodate 50,000 fans.
In the year In August 1988, the Bears played the Minnesota Vikings in a preseason game at Ullevi Stadium in Gothenburg.