In its entire franchise history, the Seattle Seahawks have only had two regular season games outside of the United States — both of them as the designated away team. In 2012, Seattle romped the Buffalo Bills in a 50-17 drubbing in Toronto, and they dominated the Raiders by a score of 27-3 at London’s Wembley Stadium.
With the NFL expected to restart its international series this season after taking 2020 off for the pandemic, there is a possibility that the Seahawks (and the rest of the NFL) will all have to play a “home game” overseas at least once every eight years starting in 2022. This all coincides with new broadcast deals and the impending 17-game regular season schedule.
But there’s a different wrinkle to this, as Sports Business Journal’s Ben Fischer explains:
The NFL is expected to launch a formal rotation requiring every team to play a home game outside the U.S. at least once every eight years starting in ‘22, according to sources. That is part of a plan owners will consider at their meetings next week to supercharge the league’s international ambitions. As part of the same resolution, owners will finally consider a long-developing project to award local marketing rights to teams in certain countries, including Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Germany, Mexico and the U.K.— possibly leading the way to live games in new markets beyond the current overseas series in London and Mexico City. Today, most international rights are controlled by the league itself. Teams that win those rights would be permitted to market to fans — and sell limited media rights and sponsorships — in those countries for a five-year term, much in the same way they do in their home cities now. Up to six slots per market will be awarded in the countries with the most potential: Canada, Mexico, the U.K. and Germany. Teams are better suited than the league to drive fan development in new markets, advocates believe.
So a dose of Seahawks football in Germany? Or nearby Vancouver, British Columbia? We might see that happening.
Another thing to note is that with the 17-game schedule comes a home-road imbalance, so the NFL’s vision is that “four teams in the conference getting the 9th game in any given year will have the extra home date sent abroad.” This doesn’t seem particularly surprising that the 17th game would be part of the grand neutral site plan.
The USA’s big domestic sports leagues have all made a push for expansion into international markets in the form of meaningful games. In non-pandemic years the National Basketball Association has held games in Mexico City and London, Major League Baseball has had regular season matchups in London and Tokyo, and the National Hockey League staged a mix of preseason and early regular season games in primarily European countries. None of those other three make as much money as the NFL, so they’re looking for more revenue opportunities outside the country.
We’ll see if the NFL approves this and for our readers outside of the United States, a Seahawks home game may be coming to your country.