The NFL announced early last year that it would play a 2022 regular-season season game at Munich's Allianz Arena, the first of four in Germany over the next four years. The demand was overwhelming.
Bayern Munich's state-of-the-art home venue seats a little less than 70,000 fans. The NFL got millions of ticket requests.
You read that right. Millions.
The atmosphere at the clash between the Seattle Seahawks and Tampa Bay Buccaneers was electric, with passionate fans enjoying every second of an experience unique to Germany, singing Neil Diamond and John Denver during and well after the game had ended.
It was clear with that event that Germany is passionate about NFL football.
The Atlanta Falcons took notice.
They were seriously considering a venture into the NFL's Global Markets Program, and now they've made it official.
The Falcons have officially been awarded international marketing rights in Germany, the NFL announced today, meaning the team will start its push into serving a quality NFL product to that booming market.
There were several other countries available, but Germany was a natural fit. Some of the team's major partners have strongholds there, including Mercedes-Benz and Delta.
Working directly in Germany will allow the Falcons to expand a pair of organizational pillars and implement them overseas.
The Falcons are committing significant resources to supporting the military, and Germany houses large numbers of U.S. soldiers working and often living abroad. This will allow the Falcons to extend their reach and support troops across the Atlantic.
"We're a leading club in supporting the military and Germany is one of the largest countries in terms of U.S. bases," Falcons team president Greg Beadles said. "It feeds in naturally to what we already do."
The Falcons are major proponents of flag football, especially girls flag football, and Germany's participation rates are sky high for a European market.
"There are already over 30,000 flag football participants in Germany," Beadles said. "With us being a leader in girls flag football, and flag football overall in the U.S., we want to continue that in Germany and build off the base of what they already have."
Germany was therefore an obvious location to expand their fan base.
"We took six months digging into it hard in terms of a business plan, a marketing plan and all that," Beadles said. "Everything came together, and the NFL was really happy with what we submitted."
The Atlanta Falcons Germany fan club will surely be excited about that. The grassroots organization of diehard Falcons fans are well organized and steadily growing, with a commitment to the team that rivals any in the Atlanta area.
They've come out to home games at Mercedes-Benz Stadium before, in addition to hosting a video podcast in German for fans who follow the team.
"The cool thing is how excited they are," Beadles said. "They're enthralled to be a part of it. We have some pretty cool plans for how we're going to introduce this effort to them and how they can be part of this initiative.
We want to bring them to London when we're there this year (the Falcons play Jacksonville on Oct. 1 at Wembley Stadium) and start to walk, run and then sprint over the next four to five years. They're going to be the foundation for what we're doing in Germany."
The Falcons have big plans for Germany on the horizon. That could include a Falcons home game played there in the relatively near future. After seeing the reaction to NFL football in 2022 – the league will play two games more in Frankfurt this season – the Falcons would assuredly play in front of a rabid crowd, with a sizable contingent from the German faction of this fan base.
"We're definitely excited," Beadles said, "for our opportunities to play over there."