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NFL considering playing preseason game in Beijing

3/29/2006 - NFL

ORLANDO, Fla. -- With the Summer Olympics headed to China,
why not the NFL, too?

Commissioner Paul Tagliabue said Wednesday the league is
considering playing a preseason game in Beijing next summer, one
year before the Olympics are staged there.

The NFL has played exhibition games outside the United States
regularly since 1986, although there won't be any this summer. Last
Oct. 2, Arizona beat San Francisco in the first regular-season game
played abroad, in Mexico. The Cardinals gave up a home game in
Tempe, Ariz., to play in Mexico City, where they drew 103,467 to
Azteca Stadium.

"I think the chances are increasing," said Tagliabue, who was
in China last May and met with Beijing officials and Chinese
Olympic executives. "We've had many discussions on that and our
international people have been to China."

Several NFL owners have cited China as a new frontier the NFL
needs to penetrate in a global marketing approach. The NBA already
has succeeded in that area, in great part thanks to the popularity
of Rockets All-Star Yao Ming.

While Tagliabue called the Mexico City game "a resounding
success," no regular-season games will be played abroad this
season. He did emphasize the need to "institutionalize" having
such games, or the Pro Bowl, played outside the United States in
the future.