Super Bowl may shift overseas: Goodell

By Erik Matuszewski, Bloomberg

NEW YORK — The National Football League is looking into holding Super Bowls outside the U.S., with London’s Wembley Stadium among the possible sites for the annual championship game, Commissioner Roger Goodell said.

“There’s a great deal of interest in holding a Super Bowl in London,” Goodell told reporters following a luncheon in Scottsdale, Arizona, that was sponsored by the host committee for the 2008 Super Bowl.

The NFL has shifted its strategy for overseas growth from running leagues to bringing audiences regular-season games, with the Miami Dolphins scheduled to play the New York Giants in London on Oct. 28. Goodell said he sees the NFL title game becoming international as well, without giving a timeframe.

The league has hosting agreements up to the 2011 Super Bowl in Arlington, Texas.

Last year’s Super Bowl was the second-most watched sports event globally after soccer’s World Cup final, according to Initiative Worldwide. The 2005 Super Bowl was the world’s most- viewed sports event, Initiative said.

“It wouldn’t be surprising if the Torontos of the world and the Londons of the world say, ‘We want a piece of that,”’ Goodell said.

The NFL shut down its European developmental league in June. Team owners have voted to hold one regular-season game outside the U.S. this year and as many as two every year from 2008 to 2011. Organizers have sold 95,000 tickets for this month’s game at Wembley Stadium, the league said.

In 2005, the Arizona Cardinals and San Francisco 49ers played a regular-season game in Mexico City. That game drew a crowd of 103,467 to Azteca Stadium, the biggest crowd to attend a NFL regular-season game.

Goodell also said the NFL is considering changes for the Pro Bowl, including rotating the league’s All-Star Game between cities or playing it on another date. The game, played the week after the Super Bowl, has been held in Honolulu since 1980.