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Patriots, Seahawks will play game in Beijing in 2007

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- The New England Patriots and Seattle Seahawks will face each other in a preseason game next August in Beijing, exactly one year before the start of the Olympic Games in China.

"We had a tremendous amount of interest from our teams" in participating in the first NFL game in China, commissioner Roger Goodell said Sunday before the Patriots' game against the Denver Broncos.

The Patriots and Seahawks were chosen, he said, because of their success and "because we think they represent the best of the United States and the best of the NFL both on the field and off the field." The Patriots have won three of the past five Super Bowls. The Seahawks lost last season's Super Bowl.

The Aug. 8 game will be held at Workers Stadium at 8:30 p.m., a 12-hour time difference with the United States. It will be shown live on NBC at 8:30 a.m. ET on Aug. 9 and will be the 42nd NFL game played outside the United States, all but one in the preseason.

"If there's any country we should bring our game to, it's the most populous country on earth where there's a great business environment and a great love of sport," Patriots owner Robert Kraft said. "There's nothing that brings people together like sport and we believe this is a great way to bring our two countries closer together."

On the previous Thursday night, the Patriots will play at the Seahawks before both teams leave for China. Each team will play five preseason games, one more than the usual number.

The extra game and trip to China will cause coaches of both teams to make substantial adjustments to their training camp schedules. Kraft said he consulted with his football personnel on the decision to go to China.

The strength of the NFL has been its ability to increase revenues, Kraft said, "and the players and the coaches and the organizations have been the biggest beneficiaries. If we don't do things like this, I think we'll lose our pre-eminence in U.S. sport."

The Olympic Games will be broadcast by NBC.

The football game "seems like an absolute natural" to take place in China which is "the greatest growing new society," said Dick Ebersol, NBC Universal Sports & Olympic chairman. "It's hard to call China a new society, but to so much of us it has become a new society."

The Seahawks played at home Sunday and did not have a representative at the news conference.

In a statement, Seattle chairman Paul Allen said, "We are proud of the Pacific Northwest's deep cultural and business ties to China. We look forward to developing relationships surrounding this game that will have a lasting impact and will serve as a legacy of our participation in this historic event."

The game will be televised live in China in primetime by China Central Television.

CCTV is broadcasting the NFL's schedule of Sunday night games live in China throughout this season, culminating with an on-site telecast of the Super Bowl.