Taylor Swift: Travis Kelce and the Chiefs are in town with Germany gripped by NFL fever… and it could get more manic if the pop sensation flies in to support her man!
- Frankfurt is about to host its first ever NFL game as the sport grows in Germany
- It could explode even more if pop star Taylor Swift takes a break from her tour
- DailyMail.com provides all the latest international sports news
Look out London, the NFL circus is rolling into a new city. In Frankfurt, the Kansas City Chiefs are painting the town red and docking a team-themed yacht on the River Main.
Who knows, perhaps Taylor Swift will jet in to see Chiefs tight end boyfriend Travis Kelce as Germany’s financial hub and fifth biggest city sees two 6-2 AFC powerhouses — Kansas City and the Miami Dolphins — meet at Deutsche Bank Park tomorrow.
Next week, the New England Patriots will show off their six Super Bowl trophies for fans as the NFL circus continues in the build-up to their game against the Indianapolis Colts at the 49,000-seat stadium, home of Bundesliga side Eintracht Frankfurt.
The appetite for American football in Germany is unquenchable. It is the second most popular sport, with almost half a million fans tuning in each Sunday to see the two games shown on free-to-air RTL. In June, an online queue of 1.4million people — 1.7 per cent of the population — waited for tickets to the Chiefs game, which sold out in a quarter of an hour.
After Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers beat the Seattle Seahawks at Bayern Munich’s Allianz Arena, the first regular season game in Germany, almost 75,000 fans belted out Take Me Home, Country Roads and Sweet Caroline for 15 minutes after the final whistle had blown. Little wonder the NFL is coming back for more.
The city of Frankfurt, Germany is about to be introduced to a whole new type of football
Two men have played a significant part in the sport’s growth in mainland Europe.
Dr Alexander Steinforth is an alumni of both Cambridge and Oxford Universities. He spent two years at Manchester United working as a strategy manager before a spell at Fortuna Dusseldorf as commercial director. He became the NFL’s general manager in Germany in 2021.
Dusseldorf-born Sebastian Vollmer took up American football aged 14 and earned a scholarship to the University of Houston. Drafted in 2009 by the Patriots, he spent eight years protecting Brady. The offensive tackle retired in 2017 with two Super Bowl rings.
Now involved in German NFL broadcasts and a Patriots ambassador, he describes the sport’s appeal.
‘Football delivers a very unique experience compared to other sports. It’s the calmness and differentness of American football, but the excitement of soccer, right?
‘In football the home team, when the offence is on the field it’s pretty quiet. Then the defense comes on and it becomes loud. It ebbs and flows.
‘In Munich it was just loud — the entire time there was so much excitement. I think players are really looking forward to that.
‘In Frankfurt what we’re going to see is the four teams that are playing represented really well, but there will also be just general fans.
Reigning Super Bowl MVP Patrick Mahomes and his Kansas City Chiefs are in town
Mahomes and KC will hope to bounce back from a recent loss with Sunday’s contest
Travis Kelce, the Chiefs’ tight end and Taylor Swift’s boyfriend, will hope to escape the frenzy
Kelce (87) was famous in his own right, but is now more recognizable than ever before
‘In what other team sport do we see other jerseys in the thousands? You can have the Green Bay Packers fan next to the Vikings fan walking hand in hand, having a beer. I think it’s such a cool, unique experience.’
‘You have a very well-balanced league,’ Steinforth adds. ‘You have the draft system and you have a spectacular TV product — I think it’s the best media product you see out there. All of that combined together has really helped us to grow the fanbase over the past couple of years.’
Last year’s game at the Allianz Arena saw punters boost Munich’s coffers by $77.5million. Matchday merchandise records were shattered — sales were the highest ever for a game outside the US — and the match was watched globally by 8.2m people.
‘In a nutshell, it was the most successful international game the league ever had. People sang Country Roads in the stadium after the final whistle,’ Steinforth adds. ‘Starting last year having Tom Brady for the first-ever game and now Patrick Mahomes, Tyreek Hill, the Patriots. It’s definitely a dream combination.’
Since 2007, there have been 41 regular season games played outside the US — 36 in London, four in Mexico City and one in Munich. As Frankfurt prepares for its football feast, there are strong rumours Spain will also host a game in the near future.
‘It’s fair to say there’s a lot of interest from the League side to see what the future holds for us and a lot of excitement about international games overall,’ Steinforth says.
‘We now also have a dedicated managing director for international in New York who is pushing all kinds of international related topics even more than could be done in the past.
‘It’s good to see that there’s also an increasing level of interest and excitement from the team level. If you go back 10-15 years ago, when the whole thing started, it wasn’t always easy to find teams that were willing to make those trips.
Kelce’s fast-developing courtship with the pop star has been one of the top stories in football
Even in Germany, Kelce could not escape the questions about him dating the singer
‘This seems to have changed dramatically because all the teams — or many of them — now see the value of international and how it can help them to grow their fanbase or help the League grow the fanbase for American football overall. That’s definitely an exciting development.’
No sport does greed better than the NFL. Wanting to grow the game beyond its borders, in 2021 it extended its regular season from 16 to 17 games. In a related move, it decreed that every team must play abroad at least once every eight years.
Later that year, 18 of 32 teams opted to join the global rights programme, which allows teams to market overseas as they do in the US, selling merchandise, putting on fan events and commercializing. The Bears, Vikings, Jets, 49ers, Jaguars and Dolphins can market in the UK, likewise the Chiefs, Patriots, Buccaneers and Panthers in Germany.
Over the next fortnight, the Chiefs and Patriots are nominal hosts, giving up a home game each. But they have both invested considerably in their new home, with the Chiefs spending $1m on fan events.
‘The two designated teams, the teams that own marketing rights that are playing, are activating in Frankfurt heavily,’ says Steinforth. ‘The Chiefs have rented their own ship, docking in the center of Frankfurt on the River Main.
‘New England are doing a Patriots Haus in Frankfurt and there are a lot of fan activations, stakeholder events and VIP dinners.
The Chiefs’ opponents for this game are the equally talented and successful Miami Dolphins
American football has become very popular in Germany – with millions tuning in for games
‘For us it also shows the excitement of all the global market teams — teams that are not playing here, like the Panthers, are also doing their own activations around the Frankfurt games.’
With Swift set to kick off her tour in Buenos Aires, Argentina, on Thursday, could the pop princess make an appearance and take the retractable roof off Deutsche Bank Park?
Steinforth, who has a nice line in understated humor, smiles.
‘Apparently there’s a gap in the tour, so we’ll see what happens.’
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