MONTREAL — The Montreal Alouettes are embracing the possibility of NFL games being played in their city, while the operators of Regina’s Mosaic Stadium are leaving the door open to the scenario as well.
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said Tuesday the league has set its sights on playing in Canada as part of it expanding its regular season from 16 to 17 games. Starting in 2022, every franchise will play a game internationally at least once every eight years.
On Wednesday, operators of Montreal’s Olympic Stadium and Vancouver’s BC Place said in statements that they’d be interested in exploring opportunities to host NFL games.
The idea of an NFL game being played at Olympic Stadium is fine with the Alouettes, who play their home contests at Molson Stadium.
“As the sole professional football team in Quebec, we view any major football events in the province as a positive,” the CFL franchise said in a statement. “For the past two years, we have felt excitement for our sport during the month of February with the presence of Quebecers in back-to-back Super Bowls.
“If an NFL game in Montreal allows our fans to watch more football and makes them happy, then we can only rejoice.”
In 2019, offensive lineman Laurent Duvernay-Tardif, a native of Mont-Saint-Hilaire, Que., helped the Kansas City Chiefs win the Super Bowl. Tight end Antony Auclair, of Notre-Dame-des-Pins, Que., was on the active roster of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who won this year’s NFL title.
On Thursday, Regina Exhibition Association Limited, which runs Mosaic Stadium, released a statement saying it too could be interested in an NFL game.
“We certainly would have interest in hosting NFL regular season games with the support of the leagues and under the right scenario,” the statement said. “Of course, right now our focus is on preparing to be ready for when we are able to have the (CFL’s Saskatchewan Roughriders) back in Mosaic Stadium, but we are always open to have discussions with regards to other hosting opportunities.”
Mosaic Stadium seats 33,500, well smaller than BC Place and Olympic Stadium.
The NFL says it will focus initially on playing games in Canada, the United Kingdom, Mexico, Europe and South America.
Most of the biggest crowds in CFL history have been at Olympic Stadium, with the league-high being 69,093 for a Montreal Alouettes game in 1977.
As for the B.C. Lions, a team official said the franchise’s main focus is returning to the field of play in 2021. The CFL cancelled the 2020 season due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 1, 2021.
The Canadian Press