Düsseldorf, Frankfurt and Munich want to become the first German city to host American football matches.
The National Football League (NFL) has selected the trio to enter the final stages of the selection process for a regular season game.
“After an initial period in which expressions of interest were received from several cities, Düsseldorf, Frankfurt and Munich were urged to move on to the ‘candidacy phase’ of the process,” the NFL said in a statement.
“These cities will now participate in more in-depth conversations about hosting games in Germany.”
The league hopes to host a game in Germany next year, but plans could be delayed until 2023. A host city recommendation must be approved by NFL team owners.
Germany has a growing NFL fan base and one of the world’s largest economies, making them a logical target for a league with visions of global growth.
But the country’s largest city, Berlin, was not among eight that officially offered to host games after the NFL announced its intentions in June.
“Hopefully we will see a game in Germany in 2022, we are on the right track for that to happen,” said Brett Gosper, NFL manager for Europe and UK.
The final decision is expected to be announced at Super Bowl LVI in February.
Calendar conflict with the FIFA World Cup
The NFL International Series may have to wait for its German debut until 2023, in part because of the FIFA World Cup in Qatar next November.
“There could be other obstacles that emerge during this process,” Gosper said.
“We are careful to say that we are definitely in 2022, but it will certainly not be later than 2023,” he added.
Since 2007, the NFL has played 29 regular season games in London, the majority at Wembley Stadium.
The league returned to the UK on Sunday after a one-year hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic, with a match at the custom-built Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.
The London club still have seven years on a 10-year contract to host two NFL games a year.
In addition to London, ten other NFL regular-season international games were played, including six in Toronto and four in Mexico City.
Gosper told The Associated Press that the NFL is also considering potential games in France, Spain and “the Nordic countries.”