NFL CommissionerRoger Goodell was on hand at Gillette Stadium Sunday night. In a press conference held before the Patriots-Broncos game, Goodell announced that the Patriots and the Seahawks will play in the first NFL game in China – the world's fastest growing market – when the teams meet in Bejing on Wednesday, Aug. 8, 2007.
An addition to the Patriots usual preseason schedule, The China Bowl will be played at primetime in China, and will appear simultaneously on NBC on the morning of Aug. 8, 2007, after the first half-hour of The Today Show. Goodell said the extra preseason game will likely make it possible for the Patriots training camp to begin a week earlier than usual.
Patriots CEO Robert K. Kraft, NBC Universal Sports & Olympics Chairman Dick Ebersol and Ren Jun, representing the Bejing Sports Competition Management Center were all in attendance and each of them spoke enthusiastically about what will be the NFL's 42nd international game.
"My family has been doing business in China for nearly 20 years and we are proud that The Kraft Group is New England's number one exporter to China," said Kraft. "Based on our own experiences in China and the growing interest in American sports there, we launched a Patriots website in Chinese in 2004. It was the first of its kind."
Officially titled the "China Bowl," by the NFL, the game will be held at Workers Stadium. The game will be played exactly one year before the 2008 Olympics begin in Bejing. Workers Stadium will be the site of the soccer competitions during the Olympics.
"It is a privilege and an honor to be selected to participate in the NFL's inaugural China Bowl in 2007," said Kraft. "I think our players and staff will be terrific ambassadors for the game of football and I hope that I t will be an experience that they will never forget. I look forward to developing new relationships and building a legacy for the Patriots and the NFL in such a great country."
In an effort to increase the popularity of the sport in China, CCTV, a network in China, will televise the NFL's schedule of Sunday Night Football games every week this season, beginning with this Sunday's game between the Patriots and the Broncos. Sunday's game will appear live at 8:30am in China, due to the difference in time zones. The Patriots and Seahawks will each appear on Sunday night at least twice this year.