NFL adds 17th game, guarantees Packers will play international contest
The Green Bay Packers will at last play an international game — sometime during the next nine seasons.
NFL owners voted Tuesday to expand the regular season to 17 games beginning this fall and decided that every NFL team will play an international game at least once during the eight years beginning in 2022.
The Packers are the only NFL team to not have played a regular-season international game because Green Bay always refused to give up a home game to do so. That is because of the disproportionate economic impact giving up a home game would have on Green Bay, by far the smallest market in the NFL. The impact of a regular-season game at Lambeau Field is estimated at $15 million.
Also, teams hosting international games routinely refused to play Green Bay overseas because they knew they could draw a lot of Packers fans to their own home stadiums.
"We have been very clear we were not going to give up a home game. That never made sense for us, but obviously under this proposal that was approved, we will be required to do it," said Packers President and CEO Mark Murphy.
Now, each team will play internationally at least once during the eight-year period beginning in 2022. Murphy said international games will be assigned by division. In other words, all the NFC North teams will play international games the same season, either 2022, 2024, 2026 or 2028. The league gave no indication what the rotation would be, he said. Technically, those will be neutral site games.
Teams can volunteer to play more than one international game.
Murphy said Tuesday the team will be required to give up one of its home games from 2022 to 2029. It would be during one of the years when the NFC hosts the extra 17th regular-season game. The end result would be that the Packers would host eight regular-season games and one preseason game that year, so Green Bay would essentially lose one preseason home game.
"When you step back and you look at it, for the good of the league, being able to grow the game internationally is really going to benefit the league long-term. The fact that you still have eight home games is a positive," Murphy said. "I think a lot of our fans are going to be excited about the opportunity to travel internationally and go to London and watch the Packers play."
Initially, the NFL will play games in London and possibly Mexico City, as it has done in the past, but it is considering expansion to Canada, Europe, South America and China. Murphy said this year two games are planned for London and the Packers will not be one of those teams.
In adding a 17th game to the regular-season schedule, the NFL reduced the preseason to three games and designated the AFC to host the extra games this year. Teams will play cross-conference opponents based on 2020 standings. The NFC North will play the AFC West, which means the Packers' additional game will be against the Chiefs in Kansas City. The Packers and Chiefs both won their divisions in 2020.
The league chose not to add a second bye week to the schedule, but it will move Super Bowl LVI from Feb. 6, 2022, to Feb. 13.
Murphy doesn't address Rodgers' contract.
Murphy declined to answer questions about whether the Packers are attempting to restructure quarterback Aaron Rodgers' contract to create additional salary-cap space.
Murphy said he couldn't get into specific players and noted that the team has been able to free up space under the cap by reworking the deals of other players.
Green Bay will wait longer to find out if city will host NFL draft.
Also, Murphy said the NFL will not announce before October whether Green Bay, Detroit or Washington, D.C., will host the 2024 NFL draft. The Packers had said earlier the decision could be made at a May owners' meeting, but the league said Tuesday it would not be until October.
The Packers have said and the league reiterated Tuesday that it expects to have full stadiums for the regular season, unlike in 2020 when the COVID-19 pandemic closed some stadiums to fans and severely restricted attendance at the rest, including during the Super Bowl.
Packers Gold Package season ticket holders were billed for three regular-season home games and no preseason games this year because invoices were sent before the NFL decided which conference would host the extra game. The Packers said they would refund the difference between three regular-season games and two regular-season and one preseason game, the standard Gold Package, if the extra game went to the AFC, which it did. That difference ranges between $60 and $75, depending on seat location.
Gold Package holders who've already paid their invoices will receive refunds for the difference. Those who have not paid but do so online will see an updated amount owed. Those who've not paid but traditionally do so by check will get a new invoice.
The cost per seat for the season and the amount to be refunded or deducted if not already paid is:
Gold package tickets — 16-game season (with difference from 17-game season in parenthesis).
- End zone seats — $58 preseason, $118 regular season, total cost of $294. ($60)
- South end zone, 700 level — $61 preseason, $121 regular season, total cost of $303. ($60)
- End zone to 20-yard line — $64 preseason, $129 regular season, total cost of $322. ($65)
- South end zone, 600 level — $69 preseason, $134 regular season, total cost of $337. ($65)
- Between the 20-yard lines — $74 preseason, $149 regular season, total cost of $372. ($70)
Tom Silverstein of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinelcontributed to this report.
Contact Richard Ryman at (920) 431-8342 or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter at @RichRymanPG, on Instagram at @rrymanPG or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/RichardRymanPG/