The NFL in London

The+NFL+in+London

Few experimental sporting events have been more successful than the National Football League’s (NFL) International Series.

This series, an NFL initiative to expand the reach of the sport, started in 2007, when the Miami Dolphins hosted the New York Giants at Wembley Stadium in London. The first 40,000 tickets were sold out within 90 minutes of sale time, ESPN reported at the time.

The NFL International Series has grown dramatically since 2007, with the NFL deciding to play three games each season at Wembley Stadium until its initial contract with Wembley terminates in 2016. International Series games were played once per year from 2007 to 2012, then expanding to two games in 2013, and three in both 2014 and 2015.

Starting in 2013, the Jacksonville Jaguars signed a deal with Wembley stadium to play one home game in London each season, but the deal is up after this season. The NFL and the Jaguars extended the deal in late October to allow for at least two regular season games, one of which a Jaguars game, at Wembley each season for the next five years.

Yet, despite the NFL’s success in the U.K., the potential for an NFL franchise, like the Jaguars, to move to London permanently is a topic hotly debated in the sports world. “There continues to be significant momentum for London expansion,” Bloomberg View Analyst David Kahn wrote. “A study by Deloitte, commissioned in part by the NFL and released last fall, projected that an NFL team in London would generate $255 million a year for Britain. And the NFL’s international chief marketing officer is on record as predicting expansion to the U.K. by 2022.”

Emma Bareihs (’16), who has attended one of the NFL games at Wembley, feels that ASL students would enjoy an NFL team being based in London permanently. “[An NFL team in London] would start out out as a big attraction and everyone would be excited that a team has come to London,” Bareihs said.

Bareihs also noted that the excitement may dissipate with time.

The economic impact of a franchise based in the U.K.’s capital would be the leading factor for a team leaving the U.S. soil.

Ryan Farrell (’16), an avid NFL fan, thinks bringing an NFL team to London is “a can’t lose situation,” because it will allow American football to compete with native British sports such as soccer, rugby and cricket.

While the U.K. seems primed for the start of overseas NFL expansion, there are many who believe that expansion is more vital in continental U.S. cities than across the Atlantic.

Analyst Nate Silver of FiveThirtyEight Sports wrote that the cities of Los Angeles, Mexico City, Mexico and Toronto, Canada, all are better candidates for a new NFL franchise than London, although he is an advocate of expansion to all four cities.

It remains to be seen how strongly NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and his supporting cast feel about moving a team to the UK permanently. As for now, U.K. NFL fans will only be able to attend three games a year at Wembley. Although, the possibility of an NFL team playing out of London in the near future is at its peak. It may not be long before the biggest weekend activity for students is attending the NFL game on Sunday afternoon.