Steelers to Expand Activities in Germany

Latest NFL deal adds to Pittsburgh’s connections in Deutschland

By Evan Dougherty

Published April 8, 2024

Read Time: 3 mins


The Pittsburgh Steelers are expanding into Germany, further growing the franchise’s international presence and bolstering existing ties between Western Pennsylvania and Deutschland.

The National Football League recently granted the Steelers rights to expand their marketing and brand activities in Germany as part of the league’s Global Markets Program, paving the way for the Steelers to potentially play a regular season game there.

“We look forward to building an even stronger relationship by connecting directly with fans through efforts, which will include more focus on events, social engagement, and eventually, potential opportunities for games,” Steelers team president Art Rooney II said in a statement.

“The Global Markets Program has allowed us to reach fans where they’re at in ways that celebrate their unique relationship with our team. Extending these opportunities to our dedicated fans in Germany is something we are very excited about.”

Launched in January 2022, the Global Markets Program rewards NFL clubs access to international markets for marketing, fan engagement and commercialization activations, enabling clubs to build their brands globally and drive NFL fan growth beyond the U.S.

NFL teams have access to international markets for at least a five-year term, during which they can pursue activities in that international market that are consistent with what they can do in their home market.

In Germany, the program will enable the Steelers to carry out in-person fan and youth football activities. It also allows the Steelers to partake in corporate sponsorship and merchandise sales, as well as co-marketing relationships throughout Germany, according to the team.

Those activities will grow the Steelers’ connection with fans in Germany. The team currently engages in German-language programming, including on German social media channels. Key Steelers players such as Najee Harris, Pat Freiermuth and Miles Killebrew, who speaks German, have engaged directly with fans through German media and on Steelers Deutschland platforms, per the team’s release.

The NFL entered Germany in the 2022 season with the league’s first regular-season game in the country, hosted in Munich. The league expanded to two Germany games last season, each held in Frankfurt, and will host another game in Munich during the upcoming 2024 season.

Growing the game

Germany becomes the latest international market in the Steelers’ portfolio, joining the Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland and Mexico.

The Steelers were awarded marketing rights by the NFL for the Emerald Isle last year. Late Steelers chairman Dan Rooney’s ties with Ireland were notable, as he served as the U.S. ambassador there from 2009-12 and helped establish the Ireland Funds, a program founded to promote and support peace, culture, education and community development across Ireland and among Irish communities around the world.

Rooney also worked to promote football throughout Ireland, efforts that included an annual flag football contest.

The Steelers have expressed a desire to play in the league’s first regular-season game in Ireland. In 1997, the Steelers defeated the Chicago Bears 30-17 in a preseason game at Dublin’s Croke Park, which holds 82,300 and would likely be the site of any future Steelers game.

The Pittsburgh-Germany connection

The Steelers’ announcement is the latest connection between Pittsburgh and Germany, which includes numerous existing business and cultural ties.

Munich-based Siemens has more than 300 employees in the Pittsburgh area, which is also home to Siemens Rail Automation at the Waterfront and the Siemens Innomotics manufacturing hub in New Kensington. Siemens also served as the integrated building systems provider for Pittsburgh’s historic Energy Innovation Center, helping the facility meet sustainability and performance initiatives.

German companies Covestro and Sycor each operate their North American headquarters in Pittsburgh. Meanwhile, Bosch operates one of its three U.S. Research and Technology Centers in Pittsburgh while Bayer employs nearly 1,900 locally in support of its medical device operations and digital solutions business.

Pittsburgh’s metro region also has strong ancestral ties to Germany. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Pittsburgh ranks among the largest German-American cities, with nearly 19.6 percent of its population claiming German heritage.

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