Back in October the NFL announced that the San Francisco 49ers and the Jacksonville Jaguars would meet in Week 8 of the 2013 season at Wembley Stadium in London. The game is scheduled to kick off at 1:00 p.m. ET here in the states and 5:00 p.m. across the pond.
The 49ers will be represented as the away team, and the Jaguars will commit to using one of their eight home games in the U.K. This commitment came as a four-year deal, which means the Jags will use one of their home games in 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016.
Commissioner Roger Goodell told NFL.com, "By committing to play a regular-season home game in London in each of the next four years, the Jaguars will play a major role in helping grow our sport in the UK and beyond."
Goodell's assurance to the growth of the sport's global presence has helped ticket sales more than anything. According to Pro Football Talk's Twitter account, the 49ers-Jaguars matchup is already sold out. Not to mention the second London game, Steelers-Vikings, is sold out as well.
The last time the Niners played in Wembley Stadium, they hosted the Denver Broncos in front of a sellout crowd. The exact number in terms of a sellout is 83,941 at the second-largest soccer stadium in Europe. The only time a U.K.-based game hasn't sold out was in 2011 when the Bears played the Buccaneers.
Many felt that was likely due to the fact the lockout had taken place just months before. I have a feeling revenue will be the No. 1 factor when it comes time for the NFL to decide if they do indeed want an internationally based franchise.
It has been rumored that the first international franchise would land in the U.K. when the time comes. According to Albert Breer of NFL.com, the league already entered into a new phase of the U.K. project at the end of October.
For the sake and tradition of the game let's hope the NFL never establishes a team overseas. Tony Nitti of Forbes.com gives us one simple reason as to why the NFL will never permanently relocate a team to London: "The U.K.'s tax treatment of nonresident athletes."
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