The NFL has successfully grown beyond the United States over the last two decades, and it is now eying a new market for its International Series. After already having established a presence in Mexico and the United Kingdom, the league is now looking at Germany as a potential host for a regular season game as early as 2022.
On Wednesday, the NFL announced that it would be looking for “the most suitable German city for a possible expansion of the International Series into mainland Europe.”
The league targeting Germany does not come as a surprise. Not only have there been discussions about a game there since at least 2016, it is also the most populous country on the European continent and an emerging market for the NFL to target.
The league’s press release on Wednesday mentioned just that:
The process follows a number of strong years of fan growth in Germany. Weekly NFL television viewership on partners ProSieben and DAZN has grown by more than 20 percent annually since 2017, ad millions of fans tuned in for Super Bowl LV, making it the third consecutive season of record German Super Bowl viewership. Germany is a leading market outside North America for NFL Shop sales, fantasy football participation and sales of the Madden NFL video game.
The fast growth of the market, plus the fact that Germany is well-situated to also serve other Central Europe countries as a potential travel destination, makes it well-suited to host a regular season contest starting next year. The question, of course, is which city will be identified as that “suitable” partner for the league.
Rumor has it that Munich is a leading candidate, with a game there possibly taking place during the annual Oktoberfest. The city has the infrastructure and one of the largest soccer stadiums in Germany — Bayern Munich’s 70,000-seat Allianz Arena — and also is located well within an international context: Berlin, Paris, Milan, Vienna, Zurich and Prague are all within an eight-hour drive (or less than that when traveling by train).
As was pointed out by Lars Hengstler of Blogging The Boys, however, another city might have an even stronger case as far as football history in the country is concerned.
According to him, Frankfurt is “easily the center of NFL football in Germany” and actually one of five cities — alongside Berlin, Hamburg, Cologne and Düsseldorf — to have hosted an NFL Europe franchise in the 1990s and early 2000s. The city also has a similar infrastructure as well as a stadium with a suitable capacity of 51,500.
Regardless of which city will eventually be chosen, it seems all but certain that the NFL will play games on German soil sooner rather than later.