Berlin in the mix to host NFL game as league eyes future in Germany

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NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell says Berlin has shown “a lot of interest” in hosting a game as the league plans to extend its agreement to play in Germany beyond 2025.

“Düsseldorf, Berlin — there’s been a lot of interest there — so I think they’re all possibilities, yes,” Goodell said Saturday.

Frankfurt is hosting two games starting Sunday when the Kansas City Chiefs play the Miami Dolphins at Deutsche Bank Park. The first regular-season game was played last year in Munich.

The NFL’s current deal calls for one game next season — it’s scheduled for Munich — and another in 2025, likely in Frankfurt.

Düsseldorf, Frankfurt and Munich were all finalists before the NFL selected its host cities. Berlin didn’t apply.

Goodell, who took questions from the audience but not from media, didn’t reveal if the league has extended its deal but confirmed the NFL is committed to the country long-term.

“We have every intention to continue to play here,” Goodell told the mostly German audience at a downtown hotel. “You’ve been an incredible part of our growth, you’ve been part of our history of growing our game globally. We’re going to continue to play here in some fashion.”

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Next week, the New England Patriots face the Indianapolis Colts at Deutsche Bank Park, the home of German soccer club Eintracht Frankfurt.

The “franchise question” was asked, as is common with the London appearances, but Goodell said the league has no current plan to base a team in Europe.

Instead, the strategy is playing more games abroad. The NFL added a 17th game to the schedule to facilitate that, and it is reviewing Spain and Brazil as future hosts, with one likely for next season.

“I expect we’ll be playing a regular-season game in another market next year in addition to the markets we’re in,” Goodell said.

Germany is a core part of the NFL’s international strategy. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers beat the Seattle Seahawks 21-16 at Allianz Arena in Munich last year in what the NFL said was the league’s most successful international game in terms of viewership and merchandise sales.

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In 2021, eight German cities submitted bids to host games. Brett Gosper, NFL Head of Europe and UK, told The Associated Press at that time that Berlin “decided not to show an expression of interest. It seems that they were not keen to engage in a competition, so that was their choice.”

The NFL had urged German bidders to form a consortium between the region, the city and the stadium owner with the goal of establishing a long-term partnership. The stadium, infrastructure and ease of travel were key factors.

In August 1990, the Chiefs played a preseason game against the Los Angeles Rams at Olympic Stadium in West Berlin after the Berlin Wall fell and just before reunification. Media reports said there were 55,000 fans.

Goodell also said he was encouraged by the outcome of the Jacksonville Jaguars playing two London games in consecutive weeks.

“It really didn’t have a big impact from a football standpoint,” he said. “Matter of fact, they came back to the States and they played the next Sunday. That gives you greater flexibility in the scheduling, it gives you a little bit more ability to think through what the possibilities truly can be.”

He added they’ve considered playing a “prime-time” game in London.

Reporting by The Associated Press.

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