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NFL looks to hold international games in Germany; Packers would be a great fit

Coming from a state with strong German heritage, the Packers would be a logical team to travel if the NFL works out a game in Deutschland.

Chicago Bears v Green Bay Packers Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images

While NFL teams are holding minicamps and OTAs this week, the league itself announced plans to expand its international reach to continental Europe. Specifically, the NFL issued a press release on Wednesday that it is looking for partner cities in Germany to host an international series game, and that it could look to begin doing so as early as the 2022 season.

Albert Breer of Sports Illustrated further reports that the league is hoping to schedule that game during Oktoberfest, the annual celebration of German heritage and culture — and, of course, beer.

If the NFL is serious about scheduling a Germany game during Oktoberfest, then one host city makes more sense than any other: Munich. In the heart of Bavaria in southeastern Germany, Munich plays host to the Oktoberfest celebration, which runs from mid-September to the first Sunday in October. It also is home to a modern soccer stadium that could accommodate an NFL field and crowd: the home of FC Bayern Munich, Allianz Arena, opened in 2005 and has a capacity of at least 70,000 fans.

Munich and its stadium have played host to numerous major events over the years, including FIFA World Cup matches in 2006, UEFA European tournament matches in 2020, and the 2012 UEFA Champions League final in 2012.

Of particular interest for fans of the Green Bay Packers is the logical connection between the Packers’ fan base and a potential game in Germany. The prevalence of German immigrants who settled in the state of Wisconsin is one connection, and the food products they brought, such as beer and sausage, remain a major part of sports and tailgating culture. Therefore, sending the Packers and their fans to Munich would be a perfect fit.

Should the NFL work out details for a game in Germany in 2022 and if the Packers are a primary target, there are several possible matchups that could intrigue the NFL. First, the Packers are scheduled to have nine regular season home games in 2022, and the NFL has informed teams that they will be forced to give up a home game for an international contest at least once every eight years. That could be an option to send Green Bay overseas in 2022, giving up one home contest while still maintaining a normal complement of eight regular season games at Lambeau Field.

Potential opponents in that case would include the Dallas Cowboys, New York Giants, New England Patriots, New York Jets, or yet-to-be-determined teams from the NFC West or AFC South. If the Packers were to have a 2022 road game moved instead, a matchup with the Buffalo Bills could set up an amazing experience for two die-hard fan bases.

For now, the NFL is still in the preliminary planning stages for a game in Germany. Again, no host city has yet been identified, but there should be several candidates, including five cities that played host to NFL Europe teams in the 1990s and 2000s. Here is a look at some of the potential candidate cities and their stadiums:

Potential German Host Cities

City NFL Europe Team Stadium Year Opened Approx. Capacity
City NFL Europe Team Stadium Year Opened Approx. Capacity
Dortmund N/A Signal Iduna Park (Westfalenstadion) 1974 80,000
Berlin Berlin Thunder Olympiastadion Berlin 1936 75,000
Munich N/A Allianz Arena 2005 70,000
Gelsenkirchen N/A Veltins-Arena (Arena AufSchalke) 2001 55,000
Düsseldorf Rhein Fire Merkur Spiel-Arena 2005 54,600
Hamburg Hamburg Sea Devils Volksparkstadion 1953 51,500
Frankfurt Frankfurt Galaxy Deutsche Bank Park (Waldstadion) 1925 48,500
Köln Cologne Centurions RheinEnergieStadion 1923 46,000
Stuttgart N/A Mercedes-Benz Arena 1933 55,000
Leipzig N/A Red Bull Arena 2004 43,000

All of the above stadiums have the highest possible venue rating from UEFA, the European soccer federation, with the exception of three: those in Düsseldorf, Frankfurt, and Köln. Still, Munich surely would be the leading candidate to host should the city want to do so, while the Packers should be heavily considered as an ideal team to play in one of the NFL’s first games in the country.