Soccer fans might have to start showing up at NFL stadiums early next year to watch the Los Angeles Rams open their home season in Vegas.
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said Tuesday at an event with members of the Nevada congressional delegation that the league is in “very early stages” of talking to Barcelona and Real Madrid about playing a game at its stadium in Las Vegas, which is scheduled to open in time for the 2020 NFL season.
Goodell said Real Madrid and Barcelona were approached with the opportunity early last year when Las Vegas was still mulling over whether to make the move from Oakland to Nevada. The NFL consulted with the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, which oversees the stadium, about the logistics of such a game. “You have to get in there early if you want a game,” Goodell said.
Goodell also said the NFL is talking with L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti about playing a home game in downtown Los Angeles in 2020, and that a decision on whether that game will take place there is imminent.
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The NFL has announced nine new “clusters” this year in which teams will play host to home games. That includes today’s news that the Baltimore Ravens will play host to the Atlanta Falcons at M&T Bank Stadium as part of the Ravens’ season in Atlanta. (The Falcons will move into the new Mercedes-Benz Stadium next season.)
The 2020 American Football Playoffs will kick off at Atlanta’s Mercedes-Benz Stadium. The previous four Super Bowls also began in Atlanta, and the Vikings and Panthers will face off in the NFC title game at the stadium on Sunday.
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Goodell and the Nevada congressional delegation also discussed the expansion of the NFL’s social responsibility program, with Goodell saying the league has expanded its charitable giving from $600 million in 2014 to $800 million in 2015 and $1 billion this year.
He said charities will have access to a pool of money this year that allows them to bid on individual projects. “This has really become a social movement,” Goodell said.
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Goodell was also asked whether he believes the league should return to having regular-season games in Mexico City in the winter (L.A. plays at Stanford Stadium from Thanksgiving to Christmas each year); one of the Southern Nevada delegation members noted that about $10 million has already been spent on renovations for a new stadium being built for the Minnesota Vikings in the Mexican city of Minnesota.
“I’m not going to look at moving away from our games in the United States,” Goodell said. “We do just great business and we’ve got a great fan base here in the United States, too. But this is a business decision, and I think more people get a chance to see our game here than there ever will be outside the United States.”
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Goodell said the Super Bowl will return to Mexico City in 2020, which will be its sixth time there. “We think that Mexico is a great market,” he said. “We’ve enjoyed having the league be a big event there, and we’ll bring it back there.”