On December 15th the NFL awarded teams the ability to grow their fan base in international markets. A full list of the 26 total IHMA (International Home Marketing Area) awarded to teams can be found here. For Seattle, one IHMA that was awarded was Canada. With several NFL teams boarding Canada. Along with the country having its successful football league, it makes sense to expand into the untapped NFL market.
There is no NFL team in Canada for many plausible reasons. The Canadian Football League has a good developmental partnership with NFL. The NFL doesn’t want to expand and/or relocate a team. The NFL Commissioner Rodger Godell gave praise in the past when talking about Toronto. “a great city for an NFL team,” the caveat being any new team needs a brand-new state-of-the-art stadium.
What does the IHMA for Canada mean for the Seattle Seahawks and their plans?
In 2022 Seattle will begin holding regular fan events up north in Canada. The franchise will be pursuing media partnerships to carry their preseason games on TV along with regular-season radio broadcasts. They’ll also be working to develop youth support with expansion of the NFL Flag Football program. The IHMA will work to grow the fan base and have participation in Canada, hence the program 12 North.
With an official push, Seattle’s franchise will hope to build a larger, more spread-out base. The North fan base is strong for Seattle and gives the fans a chance to support them locally. Seattle announced the focus on Western Canada. The Seahawks official Communications team confirms British Columbia, Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta. With over 3,000 Canadian season tickets holders. Seattle will look to have the Northwest North America region locked in as loyal passionate 12s.
Unfortunately, there’s no news as of now of Seattle hosting games in Canada. The Seahawks announced they will work with the NFL to secure games as the new slew of international games gets scheduled. With a 17-game schedule, the NFL would love to host games in Canada in 2022. The extra game makes it an easy sell to teams and fanbases. It would be the classic eight home and eight away. Leaving one neutral site game for a balanced schedule.
Where Could Seahawks Play In Canada?
With no games yet it leaves time to speculate on location. Here is a list of cities and venues Seattle may visit in the North in the next few years, based on the areas Seattle is marketing to.
Vancouver, British Columbia
With the proximity of Seattle and Vancouver, the relationship is tight knit. Pair that up with the success of the Seahawks in the last decade, it could be argued the Seahawks are more popular in Vancouver than the BC Lions. Vancouver is a guarantee to host Seattle only being two hours away.
Vancouver would without a doubt sellout, with Washington natives who would make the trip north up I-5. A sellout with a passionate crowd internationally could be a spectacle. Vancouver and Seattle may very well be a story if a regular-season crowd internationally feels like a home game in a second city.
The venue of BC Place is home to the BC Lions and Vancouver Whitecaps. Along with hosting the 2010s Winter Olympics, it’s a prestigious venue. It has a retractable roof, the second largest scoreboard in North America and a capacity of 54,000. This stadium is arguably better than some NFL teams have. It’d also be the Seahawks second NFL game in BC Place after losing a pre-season game in 1998 to the San Francisco 49ers 24-21.
The capital of Alberta makes sense to host an NFL game. Nicknamed “The City of Champions” with a beautiful Multipurpose stadium it could be a strong host for the Seahawks. Commonwealth Stadium is home to the CFL Edmonton Elks, which has a capacity of 56,000. Home of a team that holds 14 Grey Cups, it’s proof that Edmonton is a city worthy of the Seahawks’ attention.
The stadium and city give off the vibes of a destination college venue. It would look beautiful for NFL fans on TV seeing the big sky with football they know. The fun of international games is seeing destinations. With an open-air stadium, it would need to be early in the season to avoid some weather complications. That with a flight even for Seattle fans leads it to be least likely than Vancouver.
The furthest market mentioned would be IG Field located at the University of Manitoba campus. The seating capacity is only 33,000 about half the size of the smallest NFL venue. However, the NFL allowed the Chargers to play three seasons in the 27,000 StubHub Center (Now the Dignity Health Sports Park) in LA. Winnipeg host one of the most popular CFL teams, even in a smaller city hosting the Blue Bombers.
IG Field has hosted the Green Bay Packers and then the Oakland Raiders in 2019. However, there was some controversy with meeting NFL game standards with field construction with moving the goal post back. The adjustment to the field unfortunately caused holes and it was too late to fix it, so they had to play on an 80-yard field. The field itself was praised by players and coaches as great to play on. With an NFL game played already, Seattle could try to make it further to Winnipeg.
The venue would be Mosaic Stadium, home of the Saskatchewan Roughriders. In 2019 an NFL game was played at IG Field, while it was meant to initially be at Mosaic Stadium. However, the Roughriders vetoed the Packers game due to the Roughriders having a game the following day. They were concerned the field wouldn’t be reconfigured in time for their game.
The capacity is about 33,000 with a sunken bowl that allows fans to be on top of the action. With a partial roof that is meant for snow, it is reminiscent of Lumen Field’s roof to shield from the rain on a smaller scale. It’d be fitting to play in a similar stadium allowing the team to go East in a stadium that almost held an NFL game.
Starting in 2022 the Seattle Seahawks will begin marketing in Canada. Expanding their footprint hoping to grow a bigger fanbase. With their community outreach programs, there should be more eyes and buzz on the Seahawks up north. As they cultivate their bigger reach, look forward to future Seahawks games in Western Canada.