The NFL wants to play regular season games in Canada as soon as 2022.
Commissioner Roger Goodell has called Canada ‘a very important market’ and his words were backed by the expanded 17-game regular season schedule. The increased inventory of games will ensure that beginning next year, up to four neutral-site games could be scheduled outside the United States — Canada was the first country listed by the NFL.
According to oddsmakers at Bodog Canada, there’s a better chance than not Goodell and his league put football in a Canadian venue in 2022. The major question: what city will host the next regular season NFL game in Canada?
The odds on favourite to welcome the NFL is Canada’s most populated city.
Toronto has played host to the only regular season games ever contested north of the border. The Buffalo Bills played one per year from 2008 to 2013 at Rogers Centre.
Goodell has said in the past Toronto would be “a great city for an NFL team,” but there needs to be a state of the art stadium for a team there. That statement wouldn’t necessarily hold true for a regular season game.
The NFL knows Toronto has done it in the past and could do it again. Perhaps the allure of a single game draws excitement for a new facility to be built with the idea of an NFL franchise in the future.
It’s easy to see the Seattle Seahawks selling out at BC Place.
Even though it’s hard for CFL followers to admit, the Seahawks have a bigger fan base in British Columbia than the BC Lions. There was one NFL pre-season game there in 1998, the San Francisco 49ers beat the Seahawks 24-21, it was part of the American Bowl series.
BC Place has hosted opening and closing ceremonies for the Olympic Games, an NHL Heritage Classic, FIFA Women’s World Cup soccer games, and Grey Cups. It ranks in the top 100 stadiums in North America for capacity, with seating for 54,500 or more based on event configuration.
Experience and facility combined make Van City an intriguing value bet.
La Belle Province knows how to put on a party and Olympic Stadium has been host to many word class events in the past, including NFL games.
There have been two pre-season NFL contests played at The Big O. The New York Jets beat the Cleveland Browns 11-7 on August 18, 1988, while the Pittsburgh Steelers defeated the New England Patriots on August 9, 1990.
Prior to the pandemic, for six straight years, the Toronto Blue Jays played their final two spring training games of the year at Olympic Stadium. It’s capable of hosting sporting events even though it’s due to have a new roof installed by the 2026 World Cup, although there have already been delays.
The NFL playing in the nation’s capital would be picturesque. TD Place has a beautiful backdrop along the Rideau Canal and can be expanded from its current capacity of 24,000 to fit more fans, the 2017 Grey Cup had 36,000 in the building.
The capital of Alberta is a hardcore sports town and would embrace an NFL game. Commonwealth Stadium could serve as a proper host as evidenced by five Grey Cups played there with an average attendance north of 60,000.
McMahon Stadium has a charm to it, but the facility seems far too outdated to host the NFL. It’s surprising to see the old barn as an option over the state of the art stadium in Saskatchewan.