This past weekend, Wembley stadium in London played host to two winless NFL teams in a game that drew 80,000+ fans. The NFL threw a block-party the day before the game that drew 500,000 people to the streets. The NFL in London isn’t going away anytime soon. With this kind of turnout the NFL fans can be sure that not only will there still be regular season NFL games played in London, but their frequency just might increase every year. There’s been a ton of speculation on the possibility of an NFL franchise in London. Also, there’s talk of London being a possible future site of a Super Bowl. Which would be worse for NFL fans?
Last week, the MMQB ran opposing columns on the topic of NFL expansion into London. Don Banks wrote against the idea while Andrew Brandt explained why he feels it’s a perfect move. The biggest opposition to the idea of an NFL team in London is the fact that American football is still very much a novelty in Europe, in spite of the fact that these games sell out within minutes each season. Soccer is king across the pond and American football will never be more than a fad. On the other hand, an NFL team in London would take the NFL owners from being billionaires to gozillionaires so it’s always going to be worth it for them to explore. The “fad” concept of American football succeeding in Europe is a possibility, even if the logistics would be tough to handle.
An NFL team based in London would have to travel for two to three weeks in the states for games to avoid having to make the transatlantic trip multiple times. Similar to how a west coast NFL team might stay on the east coast an extra week if they have back-to-back games.
A team being located in London wouldn’t do much to local NFL fans, unless of course a team is put there because it’s moved from an existing NFL city. Jacksonville’s already meager fan base could get royally screwed over, literally, if the team is picked up and moved to London. Also, the city of Los Angeles continues to sit there and waive their hands feverishly to call attention to themselves to be considered for an NFL franchise. If a team is moved to London rather than Los Angeles; that’s a big f-you to the fans out there. Other than that the biggest concessions would be made by the players in this instance, and not the fans. Fans could still see the team play stateside and always have the option to travel overseas for their team if they have the means to do so, just like now with the multiple games being played out there each season. It’s the NFL players who’d really get screwed over with having such grueling travel schedules and having to relocate families overseas.
When it comes to a Super Bowl in London, it’s just the one game so how hard could that be? Logistically speaking, the biggest hurdle to jump when it comes to having London host a Super Bowl is the time difference. Already, the regular season games being played out there cannot be the “Prime Time” games like Sunday or Monday night football because of the time difference. The NFL isn’t about to wait to show a game till 11:00 pm est. at night. The Super Bowl typically kicks off at 6:00 pm est. on Super Bowl Sunday; how would that work if the game is played in London? You can fix all the travel issues and schedules you want, you can’t speed up the time difference between London and the West Coast.
The bigger “f-you” to NFL fans in this scenario, in my opinion, would be allowing London to host a Super Bowl. First off, I don’t know how you fix the time difference issue and secondly, how about just advertise the game as something the average NFL fan will never get to be a part of and just be up front about it? The average ticket price for the Super Bowl already runs just under $3K per person, you add an international flight on top of that cost and you’ve just permanently put it out of reach for the majority of NFL fans.
Clearly, as long as the London NFL games still draw the kinds of crowds they draw, there’s no way either the NFL owners or Wembley Stadium will want to stop moving NFL regular season games over there to keep cashing. Thank goodness for at least a five hour time difference.