I don’t know where this rumor started. It might have been an offhand comment and it’s been blown out of proportion but here’s my take on it anyway.
So why have the SuperBowl in Europe? To create a new market? Football, American football to be exact, has never caught on in Europe or Asia or Australia. In 2007 the NFL owners discontinued the NFL Europe league. As it is, the NFL already has a regular season game that’s played in Wembley Stadium in London and the players hate it.
The NFL is a business. Make no mistake about that. I appreciate that they are trying to expand the market to bring in new viewers (along with new advertising and merchandizing opportunities). However, if the owners felt they could make money in Europe I don’t think they would have disbanded the league.
Speaking of business, I don’t know if you’ve ever been to an NFL game or watched a local team on TV (I’ve lived in Southern Wisconsin, Chicago, and Kansas City where the local team was the Packers, Bears and the Chiefs respectively) but local businesses spend a fair amount of time, effort, and money to advertise and promote their products and services with their team. With an incredibly short home schedule moving a regular season overseas messes with local businesses and takes money out of the local economy with direct sales and indirect sales tax revenue.
No other sport has such a short schedule. Sixteen regular seasons games makes every game important. I think it’s one of the reasons why football is so popular. Not only does every game count but you have huge numbers of people involved in every single play. All 22 players on the field could make some incredibly important contribution to a play that makes a difference in the game.
Going to a SuperBowl is incredibly expensive. I’ve heard of people paying more than $1k for an upper level nose-bleed seat just to see their team play in the SuperBowl. I must admit that if the Chiefs make it to another SuperBowl I’d probably pony up the money as well (the chances of that seem to be slim to none the way the Chiefs have played in the past 10 years but I digress). If the SuperBowl is played overseas am I going to tack on another couple of grand for a round-trip plane ticket? Perhaps, but it certainly makes it harder. As it is, most fans can’t afford an NFL game. Pushing it overseas makes the SuperBowl even more out of reach.
My opinion is that the NFL SuperBowl should only be played in cities that have an existing (or perhaps former) NFL team. If the NFL ever expands to Canada, Mexico or Europe or anywhere else with expansion teams and play there in the regular season then I’m all for them playing a SuperBowl there. Until then, keep the SuperBowl in the United States where the real fans are.