The NFL International Series returned after a one-year hiatus when the Atlanta Falcons and the New York Jets played at Tottenham Hotspur’s new home stadium.
That game revived the league’s annual tradition that dates back to 2007 when the New York Giants defeated the Miami Dolphins in the first regular season game outside of North America.
The league expanded the international schedule to two games in 2013 and three matches a year later.
In 2017 and 2019, the NFL scheduled four games in the United Kingdom, and the attendance can go from 60,000 to 85,000 fans per game.
The UK gave us Succession and Adele. We're giving them…Jets Falcons. pic.twitter.com/HATGAEHAgd
— Mina Kimes (@minakimes) October 8, 2021
The increasing demand for the games prompted the NFL to find new areas for expansion.
That goal became a reality in 2016 when the Houston Texans and the then-Oakland Raiders played in Mexico.
Fast forward to 2021, and three German cities are in the running to host regular season games next year.
Seven cities initially showed interest in welcoming the NFL.
Significant: Next week, the NFL is taking another critical step toward playing a regular season game in Germany — possibly in 2022. On Tuesday, it will unveil 3 finalist cities. The league says it is committed to multiple games in London each season, plus a game in Mexico City.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) October 9, 2021
However, the league’s logistical demands narrowed the list to Munich, Frankfurt, and Dusseldorf.
Officials from these cities will engage the league in more talks to address concerns both parties might have.
But barring any technicality, the NFL will add another Germany to its partner countries, and the move can pay enormous dividends for these reasons.
3. An Established Fan Base
Outside of North America, Germany is the most robust market for merchandise revenue, Madden NFL sales, and fantasy football participation.
Likewise, millions of viewers tuned in to Super Bowl LV despite the time difference.
They can feed that appetite of an active and growing fanbase by bringing multiple games there.
Düsseldorf, Frankfurt and Munich move to next phase as we move closer to an NFL regular season game in Germany. Those German fans deserve this and a nice weekend trip from the uk 🇬🇧🏈🇩🇪 pic.twitter.com/hBS7yaeBPX
— Neil Reynolds (@neilreynoldsnfl) October 12, 2021
Germany is also a better location because it’s easier to travel there from any point in Europe.
Spectators from other countries can hop on a train or go on a road trip with friends to witness an NFL match.
No offense to the United Kingdom, but air travel can be costly for some fans.
2. Inspire More Europeans To Learn The Game
European football is the undisputed king on the continent.
But that doesn’t mean that staging games in Germany won’t motivate the young ones to take up the sport.
When that happens, the NFL can sponsor camps to develop the game at a grassroots level.
— Sebastian Vollmer (@SebVollmer) February 2, 2020
Beyond staging a handful of games in Germany, cultivating players who can become future stars will strengthen the NFL’s foothold in Europe.
Instead of looking like an annual visitor, the game will find a home if they start building it from the ground up.
1. Revive NFL Europa
Unlike Major League Baseball, the NFL does not have a farm system.
Teams draft players from college and invite them immediately into training camp.
They’re lucky if their rookies pan out, which is not often the case.
However, an NFL expansion into Germany can bring back NFL Europa, a developmental league for up-and-coming stars or those striving for an NFL comeback.
The league ceased operations in 2007 after 16 years of existence.
With the NFL looking to play games in Germany, a hat-tip to NFL Europa. At 23 I lived in a Frankfurt hotel for months with 80 football players and took buses all over the country to play games for fans who didn’t know a ton about football but were incredible tailgaters. pic.twitter.com/X8YHa3IxQi
— Elizabeth Staple (@RedheadStape) October 12, 2021
Once the demand for more football blows up, NFL franchises can partner with European cities to establish their farm teams to give practice players and young prospects some professional experience.
The teams can’t cite additional expenses as the reason for blocking this initiative.
For sure, they can delegate a portion of their revenue to sustain the operation.
Aside from expanding the game outside North America, they can earn additional income through ticket sales, merchandise, and local television deals.