Should The NFL Find A Home In London?
When you consider the fact that over here we call the game American Football, you have to wonder if the long term expansion plans of the NFL are of benefit? This year sees three NFL matches being played at Wembley with gridiron fans having the chance to watch a competitive match in September, October and November. This is giving hope to the idea that London may eventually host a team that plays in the regular NFL season, welcoming visiting teams from across the Atlantic on a regular basis.
It is clear that Wembley will be delighted if this were to happen. The stadium is desperate to bring in any money that they can and if they were able to guarantee the home fixtures of a NFL team for the season, they would be on to a winner. With the season running in the Autumn and Winter, there would be no Cup finals to worry about and no major concerts. This means that the NFL season falls into a time period when Wembley doesn’t have much on apart from the occasional international match. This may represent a problem because it is not as if the Wembley owners want to run the risk of seeing English international matches tour around the country again but it is not as if the NFL season clashes with the time when people expect Wembley to be busy.
Will Wembley be available?
There is a slight snag at the moment that Spurs may be on the lookout for a stadium they can use for a year and West Ham United have already told Tottenham Hotspur not to expect to see the inside of the Olympic Stadium unless they are playing the Hammers. Spurs wouldn’t share with Arsenal and after that, they would have to pitch themselves across London in the hope of finding a stadium that would be big enough to fit their fans in. That could be a potential barrier when it comes to the NFL hopes but then again, it may be that Spurs will get themselves into gear and have their Wembley season all wrapped up before NFL in London plan comes together. The only thing is, it is not as if Spurs have been moving quickly to this point so there is nothing to suggest that they may finally click into gear.
The other argument will resolve around whether there will be sustained interest for an NFL team playing at Wembley for the course of a season. These matches will be an indicator if there is sustained interest. There has been no problem in filling Wembley once a year in a one-off game but for three matches, that means there needs to be a lot of fans connecting with the sport. The people behind the campaign suggest that 4 million people in the UK watch the Superbowl but there is no indication that these people will grab a season book package or be inclined to head to London. American Football is a sport that is much better suited for TV viewers than it is for people who attend the games.
NFL games provide a day out
There is a culture in the NFL about spending most of the day in the parking lot and having a social element to the day. This is not something that is too prominent in UK culture, certainly not with parking lot parties although pubs may benefit.
The 2014 Wembley games are:
Oakland Raiders v Miami Dolphins Sunday 28th of September
Atlanta Falcons v Detroit Lions Sunday 26th of October
Jacksonville Jaguars v Dallas Cowboys Sunday 9th of November
There are plenty of betting options available for these games and the fact that they are being played in the UK may entice more fans to have a greater level of interest in what is going on. Whether there is long term interest for an NFL team in London remains to be seen but it does appear as if the NFL will be creating a permanent home in the English capital.