Montreal Olympic Stadium expresses interest in hosting NFL games

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The operators of the Olympic Stadium in Montreal and BC Place in Vancouver are interested in exploring the possibilities of hosting NFL games.

The provincial body that manages the Olympic stadium for the Quebec government and the provincial crown corporation that manages BC Place said in separate statements Wednesday that the NFL could be a good choice for their facilities.

On Tuesday, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said the league aims to play in Canada as part of its regular season extension from 16 to 17. Beginning in 2022, each franchise will play one game at internationally at least once every eight years.

The NFL says it will initially focus on games in Canada, the UK, Mexico, Europe and South America.

Most of the biggest crowds in CFL history have been to Olympic Stadium, with the league peaking at 69,093 for a Montreal Alouettes game in 1977.

The Alouettes now play at Molson Outdoor Stadium, a smaller venue.

“We are always open to opportunities to host sporting events,” said Alain Larochelle, vice president of business development for Olympic stadium operator Olympic Park, in a statement. “ The Olympic Stadium in Montreal has a rich history with North American football, notably with the CFL, the Gray Cup and the Montreal Alouettes, who still hold the record for the greatest sporting participation in the stadium’s history.

“We would be very interested in hosting an NFL game and we look forward to showing the many planned investments and the many possibilities of the Olympic Stadium in Montreal to promoters around the world. “

BC Place, which is operated by BC Pavilion Corporation, issued a similar statement.

“The NFL’s international game programming plan is an exciting and interesting development for sports fans in Canada,” the statement said.

“As BC’s premier, best-in-class stadium, with a successful track record in hosting some of the biggest sporting events and live performances in North America, BC Place is perfectly suited to host major events of this scale and format. While no discussions have been initiated at this time, we look forward to exploring all of the potential opportunities this announcement offers for BC Place and football fans in British Columbia. ”

Meanwhile, a spokesperson for Edmonton said the city would be willing to host the NFL at Commonwealth Stadium, but was not approached about the possibility.

Officials at Rogers Center in Toronto did not immediately respond to a request for an interview.

The Olympic Stadium, BC Place, Commonwealth Stadium and Rogers Center are Canada’s largest stadiums that can accommodate football. The CFL BC Lions and the Edmonton football team play at BC Place and Commonwealth Stadium respectively, while the Toronto Argonauts play at BMO Field, a venue smaller than Rogers Center.

The idea of ​​playing an NFL regular season game in his hometown is something Montrealer Benjamin St-Juste definitely appeals to. The six-foot-four, 200-pound cornerback from the University of Minnesota is screened as a third-to-fourth-round selection in this year’s draft.

“It would be incredible,” St-Juste told reporters on a video conference Wednesday, the day before his hearing for scouts on Minnesota Professional Day. “It would be a great representation for Canadian football and Canadian players.

“ All the family, friends could come and see. It would be a great opportunity for me. ”

The NFL played a full season in 2020, while the CFL canceled its campaign due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The CFL recently announced that they were in talks with the American XFL about a possible partnership.

“While we have a lot of respect for the NFL, we are focused on our own schedule as we actively prepare for our return to the field in 2021,” the CFL said in a statement asked about the NFL’s comments by La Presse. Canadian.

The NFL hosted many exhibition games in Canada, but the Buffalo Bills were the only team to play regular season games north of the border. They hosted a regular season game each year from 2008 to 2013 at the Rogers Center as part of the Bills Toronto Series, an eight-game format (later reduced to seven) designed by former Bills owner Ralph Wilson, Ted Rogers from Rogers Communications and Larry Tanenbaum. from Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment.

The league has played at least one game every year (except last year) in London, England, since 2007 and has hosted three games in Mexico in recent years.

Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver, Ottawa, Hamilton and Winnipeg have hosted NFL preseason games.

Winnipeg did it more recently in 2019, but it wasn’t a good night for game planners.

The game between the Oakland Raiders and the Green Bay Packers was played on a shortened pitch due to concerns about the turf in the end zones.

Minutes before the opener, the Packers announced they would not be dressing 33 players.


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