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List of National Football League games played outside the United States
The National Football League (NFL) has played numerous games outside of the United States. All of the league's current and former clubs have been based in the contiguous United States, with only the Pro Bowl played in a non-contiguous U.S. state (Hawaii).
Canadian Football League interleague games
Six games held in Canada between 1950 and 1961 pitted NFL teams against Canadian Football League (CFL) (or precursor) teams with the NFL team winning all six. These games were a hybrid of American and Canadian football. Ottawa hosted the first two games, while Toronto hosted three of the remaining four and Montreal held one; the first game ever held in Toronto featuring an NFL team was in August 1959 and inaugurated the city's Exhibition Stadium. One game was played between the AFL's Buffalo Bills and CFL's Hamilton Tiger-Cats in August 1961, with Hamilton winning 38–21. There was also a game in 1960 that pitted the Chicago Bears against the New York Giants played in Toronto; this was in return for a 1958 CFL matchup that was played in Philadelphia.
In the summer of 1983 an English entrepreneur named John Marshall hired Wembley Stadium and brought the Minnesota Vikings and St. Louis Cardinals over to play a pre-season exhibition game called The Global Cup. Just over 30,000 fans turned out that day to witness the game. In 1984, Marshall invited the United States Football League's Tampa Bay Bandits and Philadelphia Stars to play a post season exhibition game in July.
The American Bowl was a series of NFL pre-season exhibition games that were held at sites outside the United States between 1986 and 2005. The league started the American Bowl series in 1986 primarily to promote American football in other countries. The American Bowl was a fifth pre-season game, played the same weekend as the Pro Football Hall of Fame Game, and did not take away a game from the participating teams' pre-season schedules. At least one American Bowl game was played annually from 1986–2003. As many as four were played per year in the early 1990s. There was no American Bowl game played in 2004. The last American Bowl was held in 2005. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell cited the league's new international strategy in the abandonment of international pre-season games as well as the closure of NFL Europe, instead focusing on playing regular season games in foreign countries. There have been three international pre-season games during the American Bowl era that did not receive the American Bowl name because they were not arranged by the NFL but, rather, the scheduled home team elected to play there.
The China Bowl was the name of a proposed NFL pre-season exhibition game that had been scheduled to take place in August 2007, but later postponed to August 2009 so that more focus could be placed on the start of the International Series, and ultimately canceled, between the New England Patriots and the Seattle Seahawks at the National Stadium in Beijing. The originally scheduled China Bowl was to be played at Workers Stadium in Beijing, China, on August 8, 2007. The game was to kick-off the one-year countdown before the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, and would have been the first NFL-sanctioned game to take place in China.
On October 2, 2005, the Arizona Cardinals defeated the San Francisco 49ers by a score of 31–14 at Estadio Azteca in Mexico City, under the name NFL Fútbol Americano. It was the first regular season NFL game held outside of the United States. The game drew the NFL's highest game attendance at the time with 103,467 spectators.
NFL International Series
Beginning with the 2007 season, the National Football League has hosted regular season American football games outside of the United States every year in a series known as the International Series. Since 2007, seven games have been held in the United Kingdom, at London's Wembley Stadium, with plans to hold games until at least 2016. Within the British Isles, aside from London, potential candidates for hosting NFL games include Millennium Stadium in Cardiff, Wales and Murrayfield in Edinburgh, Scotland. Other prime areas to get games would be Ireland; Germany; Mexico; and Canada (Canada hosted the Bills Toronto Series from 2008-13). Mark Waller, NFL senior vice president, international, doubts Asia or Australia would be targeted because of the travel concerns, but he doesn't dismiss anything. The league has stated that if games in the British Isles are successful, the league will then attempt to expand to continental Europe.
Bills Toronto Series
The Bills Toronto Series was a deal between the Buffalo Bills and Rogers Communications to host a series of Bills National Football League games at the Rogers Centre in nearby Toronto, Ontario, Canada in an attempt by the team to broaden its fan base. The Bills Toronto Series was distinct from the NFL International Series because it is orchestrated by an individual team rather than the league. The series was conceived by a group that includes the late Bills owner Ralph Wilson, the late Ted Rogers of Rogers Communications and Larry Tanenbaum of Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment. In October 2007, Bills owner Ralph Wilson petitioned NFL owners to allow his team to play home games in Toronto, and NFL commissioner Roger Goodell approved the plan. The five-year deal allowed the Bills to play one regular season home game per year as well as a pre-season home game at Rogers Centre every other year of the Series (2008, 2010, 2012) for a total of eight games in Toronto. The series began in the 2008 season with the first regular-season NFL game played in Canada which the Bills lost to the Miami Dolphins. The pre-season game originally scheduled for the fifth year of the series was cancelled, as home games for the Toronto Blue Jays and Toronto Argonauts and a Bruce Springsteen concert conflicted with the NFL pre-season.
On May 22, 2012, the league gave their approval for a five-year extension to the Bills Toronto Series through 2017 should the two sides reach an agreement. The deal, featuring one regular season game each year plus a pre-season game in 2015, was formally announced on January 29, 2013. However, following the 2013 contest it was announced that Rogers and the Bills had "postponed for one year the scheduled 2014 regular season game at Rogers Centre" and that they would "use this time to collectively evaluate opportunities and build on the foundation to enhance future games." On 3 December 3 2014 it was announced that the Bills and Rogers Communications had reached an agreement to cancel the Toronto Series.
Impact on teams
Teams that have had the scheduling disadvantage of giving up a home game to participate in the series, resulting in seven home games, eight away games and one neutral site game, have seen a significant disparity in their success relative to the designated visitors, who end up with eight home games, seven away games and one neutral site game. For the 18 regular season games played outside the United States through 2014, all 18 designated home teams failed to reach the playoffs while 11 of the 18 designated visitors reached the postseason that year.
List of games
Below is a list of games played outside the United States by teams from the NFL, and its predecessor leagues the American Football League of 1926 (AFL 1926), All-America Football Conference (AAFC) and American Football League (AFL) from which the NFL absorbed teams.
Number of games by city
|Berlin[Note 1]||23x15px Germany||0||5||5||0||5||0||0||0||5|
|London||23x15px United Kingdom||11||9||20||0||20||0||0||0||20|
|Mexico City||23x15px Mexico||1||6||7||0||7||0||0||0||7|
|Osaka||Template:Country data Japan||0||1||1||0||1||0||0||0||1|
|Tokyo||Template:Country data Japan||0||13||13||0||13||0||0||0||13|
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- "WEEK 14, 2008 – Miami Dolphins @ Buffalo Bills" (PDF). Retrieved 2011-04-22.
- "WEEK 13, 2009 – New York Jets @ Buffalo Bills" (PDF). Retrieved 2011-04-22.
- "PRESEASON WEEK 2, 2010 – Indianapolis Colts @ Buffalo Bills" (PDF). Retrieved 2011-04-23.
- "WEEK 9, 2010 – Chicago Bears @ Buffalo Bills" (PDF). Retrieved 2011-04-22.
- "WEEK 8, 2011" (PDF). Retrieved 2012-12-20.
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- "International Series Game 11" (PDF). National Football League. 2014-11-09. Retrieved 2014-11-10.