Wembley Stadium: The New Home of the NFL?
Wembley has suddenly become an extra fixture in the NFL season. At the moment its one game. In 2010 it could be two; and then the Super Bowl in 2014? or 2015?
If you look at the newspapers from the UK and the US you would think there was an American football team in London.
The media coverage is massive on both sides of the pond, but do the fans really want it?
Each game at England's national stadium out-sells every existing NFL franchise, and even has more fans than Dallas AND New York added together.
According to down to earth reporters in the US, "London does a heck of a job in promoting the NFL", and "The appetite for gridiron in Great Britain is off the chart".
Amazingly, England can stage the occasional game at the stadium without falling flat on its face and embarrassing themselves in front of the 3 million viewers in the UK, and the countless numbers of viewers in the US.
But has everyone got carried away with the idea?
The latest announcement of commissioner Roger Goodell makes it look like a certainty.
"The fan reaction we've had in London has been extraordinary. We would like to feed that passion."
"We have a great fan base in the UK. There have been discussions of taking the second game and playing it in another market in the UK. That's something that we'll evaluate."
Two games? Can the UK really hold that mean?
If this is the case then its not good news for Germany, Mexico and Canada. Each of them thought they were going to be the next country to join the NFL bandwagon.
The UK isn't like America. We do not have 70,000 seater stadiums for our University teams. We just about have some for our best football teams. There are only three other stadiums in the whole of the UK that could possibly hold the big game:
Cardiff (Millenium Stadium) - 74,500
Manchester (Old Trafford) - 82,000
London (Twickenham Stadium) - 82,000
(Wembley being the biggest at 90,000)
Three out of these stadiums are national stadiums. It is only Old Trafford plays host to a non-national team—the world renowned club, Manchester United.
You can just imagine the look on Sir Alex Ferguson's face when he sees 'the pads-and-helmet brigade' ruining his haloed ground. Especially in the middle of the season! There's no way that would happen.
However, the teams that travelled to London in 2007 and 2008 had other ideas. The players and coaches did not like the travel, the turf or the idea of losing a home game. At the moment there is only one game, so all the negative views can be shrugged off, but give them two games and you won't hear the end of the bad comments.
Despite the negative issues there is a suggestion of the Super Bowl being staged at Wembley. It has been reported that it could take place as early as 2014 and no later than 2020.
Even journalists in America are calling it a "bloody good idea."
So with all this talk of more and more NFL game being played in London, is Wembley the new home of the NFL (at least in Europe)?
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