Goodell to take NFL global next season

NEW ORLEANS – Two NFL regular-season games will be played each year outside the United States in Mexico, Canada and Europe, starting in 2007.

The plan, first announced last month, was approved yesterday at the recommendation of new commissioner Roger Goodell.

No specific sites were given for the games. But when the proposal originally was disclosed, the league suggested Britain and Germany likely would host the European games.

The plan would be set up so that teams would rotate over a 16-year period, with each team playing outside the country twice over that span, once as a visitor, the other as a home team. That means a team would lose one home game during that span.

Losing the home-game revenue was the main objection raised by some teams.

“We’re going to get compensated,” said Pat Bowlen, owner of the Denver Broncos. “Obviously the league’s going to work out the economics and if we lose a home game, we’ll get compensated.

“We’re comfortable with it. Obviously we’d like to play in Mexico or Canada and not have to travel to Europe and that’s probably the way it would be set up because of our location. But as far as the league’s concerned, I think it’s a great idea.”

In 2005, the NFL staged its first regular-season game outside the United States when the Arizona Cardinals hosted the San Francisco 49ers in Mexico City. A crowd of 103,467 flocked to Azteca Stadium, the largest crowd for a regular-season game in NFL history.

The league also has played numerous exhibition games overseas for the past two decades. The New England Patriots and Seattle Seahawks will play a preseason game next August in Beijing.

“This step comes in response to the tremendous and growing interest in the NFL around the world. The owners believe hosting regular-season games outside the United States on a regular basis is in the best interests of the league and will help to increase the fan base, build awareness of the NFL and grow the sport worldwide,” Goodell said.