NFL: China being considered for 100th anniversary opener – report

FILE PHOTO: An overall of the stadium during the national anthem before the game between the New England Patriots and the Pittsburgh Steelers in the 2017 AFC Championship Game in Foxborough

(Reuters) – The National Football League is now targeting 2019 to play a game in China and that might be the opener of the league’s 100th anniversary season, according to Sports Business Journal.

The NFL has discussed plans to stage a game in China in 2018, but the target has shifted, NFL executive vice president International Mark Waller told the publication.

“It may make better sense to look at that game as an opportunity to celebrate our hundred years, in the event we can pull it off and as a way to look forward to the future,” Waller said.

Pushing back plans to play in China by a year comes on the heels of the Los Angeles Rams’ announcement of the postponement of their new stadium from 2019 to 2020.

The delay gives the NFL extra breathing room to stage a game in China with the Rams as the home team, said on Friday.

An additional year of planning could be beneficial given the difficulty the NFL has had in arranging a game in China.

Super Bowl champions New England Patriots were scheduled to play in China in 2007, but the game was canceled. The league also scrapped pre-season plans to play in China in 2009.

Super Bowl MVP Tom Brady, quarterback of the Patriots, said earlier this month that he hoped to get a chance to play in China.

“My dream is to play a game here in China some day,” five-times Super Bowl winner Brady told reporters during his first trip to the country.

“It’s just a great event and hopefully a lot of the Chinese people would enjoy it.”

This season the NFL has scheduled four games in London and one in Mexico City.

(Reporting by Larry Fine in New York, editing by Pritha Sarkar)