Tottenham’s new stadium will host at least two NFL games per season for 10 years when it opens in 2018, the team and the league announced on Wednesday.
The stadium will feature a retractable grass field with an artificial turf field underneath it that will be used for NFL games.
“It’s the first of its kind in the world,” club chairman Daniel Levy said in an interview on SpursTV.
The deal deepens the NFL’s commitment to raising the profile of the league in the UK, and bolsters the possibility that there will eventually be a London-based franchise. During this period the league still might play additional games at Wembley Stadium, which hosted three regular season games in 2014.
The deal is significant because it gives the league an obvious destination if it wanted to put a franchise in the UK full-time. The stadium is being designed with the NFL in mind, with a retractable field (which allows them to play soccer and football there on the same weekend), separate NFL-specific facilities, and a seating design that’s conducive to NFL football, unlike Wembley. Its capacity (61,000 seats) is more in line with typical NFL stadiums than the mammoth 90,000-seat Wembley. The architecture firm Tottenham is using, Populous, has designed 14 NFL stadiums.
Basically, if the new Spurs stadium is really as NFL-ready as it’s cracked up to be, the league has its stadium in London. And if we know anything about the NFL, it’s that stadiums are everything.
Andrew Brandt of the MMQB, who worked for the Green Bay Packers for years, said before this announcement he could see a team moving there:
I know, I know: There are logistical concerns of travel, taxes, food, etc. But as someone who ran an NFL international league team with substandard lodging, insufficient food and homesick players, I think things would be a bit different. NFL teams have charter travel, stay in luxury hotels and could have two- or three-game road trips to balance out travel. As to player concerns on exchange rates and taxes, that would be collectively bargained to give a potential London team proper competitive balance.
Whether a team is coming or not, the NFL in London is “a thing” and only becoming a bigger one.
London, with big Sky Sports TV contract w/NFL, is a cash cow for the NFL and different from any other market. Now, elsewhere in Europe…
— Jenny Vrentas (@JennyVrentas) July 8, 2015
At the very least, the 10-year deal will give the league a trial period during which they can test out the Spurs venue and see if a full-time franchise is feasible. It also hints at a possible timeframe (2028) for when we might see a franchise there.
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