Are the London NFL games sold out
Big Four - The US Sports Column : NFL: Off to Europe?
They even swapped the national flag of their kingdom for the guests from overseas. When it comes to hospitality, the British don't want to be blamed for anything other than the great sports nation that they are. That is why the “Union Jack” was blowing on Regent Street in London these days, not in hundreds, as usual, but only in dozens. Instead, the main shopping street in the west of the metropolis was decorated with other flags. Unconventionally shaped helmets and face shields could be seen on them, and of course the logos of the clubs involved. If that was still not enough as an indication, you only had to look at the very large flag with the logo to know who was visiting: the National Football League (NFL).
The games of the NFL teams in London were all sold out this year
The top-selling professional sports league on the planet stopped by London on Sunday. The duel between the Dallas Cowboys and the Jacksonville Jaguars as part of the so-called International Series was already the third regular season game within a few weeks at Wembley Stadium. As with the encounter between the Oakland Raiders and the Miami Dolphins as well as the Atlanta Falcons and the Detroit Lions, the arena was sold out with more than 80,000 spectators and the atmosphere was splendid. The big daily newspapers on the island and their television stations also paid tribute to the event in prominent places, although the football event, as usual, takes up the majority of the reporting. In addition, people were seen all over the city, even in rather remote areas such as Stansted Airport an hour north of the center, who revealed themselves to be NFL sympathizers.
Since 2007 NFL games have been played regularly in London
The NFL, after twelve competitive games since 2007, has arrived in London. However, it should be a few more years before the city of nine million people gets its own team. It has been discussed again and again in recent years, not least because of the great response to the people cabinets from the United States. "When we started playing competitive games in London, I assumed it would be 15 years before the city had its own club," says Mark Waller. “It's a process, and we're about halfway there,” adds the Englishman, who is responsible for international strategies at the NFL. The London franchise is currently set to start in 2022.
Despite all the enthusiasm - in some places the name of the potential London team is already being debated - there are still a few problems to be resolved for the league, the fans and those involved in sport. That starts with the logistics. It is 5600 kilometers of the airline from the east coast of the USA to London. It gets even more complicated when teams from the west coast of Europe intervene: just getting there and back takes two days for the huge crowd of coaches, supervisors, cheerleaders, PR consultants and of course the athletes themselves. Jet lag for the away team is not to be underestimated and is considered a major competitive disadvantage. Because the US teams operating in London are already granted a week-free week after their trip to Europe, a permanent team in London would have unforeseeable consequences for the schedule.
The Jacksonville Jaguars are repeatedly named as moving candidates
In addition, one of the 32 NFL teams would have to agree to move to London. At the moment, the Jacksonville Jaguars, who played against Dallas in London on Sunday and will de facto make a guest appearance at Wembley Stadium for the next two years, come into question. At home in Florida, the Jaguars are not particularly popular: their stadium is rarely sold out, and on average more people go to the games of the popular college team, the Florida Gators, than to the NFL club. In addition, the owner of the Jaguars, Shahid Khan, has already gained a foothold in England with the purchase of the second division soccer club Fulham.
Wembley could do with regular occupancy
One association would probably uniformly wave the move of an NFL team to London: the English Football Association (FA), which is still paying back millions for the newly built national stadium. The FA is very interested in a US team because the stadium is currently not a permanent home ground for a club apart from the English national soccer team. It is contractually agreed that the English selection must play every home game in the London arena by 2017. In the end, the load factor was one of those things: In the European Championship qualifiers against Norway and San Marino, the huge stadium did not even have 50,000 spectators on average - the worst number of visitors since it reopened seven years ago.
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