Wembley Stadium is best known as the home of England's national soccer team. But officials are confident the venue would be capable of handling an NFL franchise and even a Super Bowl if the league decided to further its international expansion.
Managing director Roger Maslin said the stadium is prepared to handle all of its different events, including a complete schedule of home games for a possible NFL franchise based in London, according to The Independent:
“We would be very happy to facilitate NFL at Wembley. We can hold games every couple of weeks, absolutely. Clearly, with the calendar we have to look very, very carefully and make sure we have the right balance. Football is our priority but I am absolutely confident that if Roger Goodell wanted to have a franchise here that we could absolutely deliver on it.”
For now, the NFL continues to stage regular-season games in London between American-based teams on an annual basis.
Two games will take place at Wembley this season. The Pittsburgh Steelers and Minnesota Vikings will battle across the Atlantic this Sunday, and in late October, the San Francisco 49ers will face the Jacksonville Jaguars.
The Jaguars are scheduled to play one game in London each of the next four years, as per NFL.com. They are owned by Shad Khan, who also owns Fulham of the English Premier League, a club based in England's capital.
As for the future, the NFL's senior vice president of international, Chris Parsons, says in an AP report that great strides have been made in recent years toward building a solid fanbase in England. There are no current plans to create a franchise in London, though:
"We've doubled our fan base in the last 3 1/2 to four years," Parsons said. "I'd like to see that at least double again in the next three or four years. That would put us among the top five sports in the U.K. in terms of core fan base."
While having a full-time franchise in London is still "clearly an option" for the NFL, Parsons cautioned that there are no immediate plans.
The other possibility the Wembley officials are keeping tabs on is a potential international Super Bowl. That's no surprise considering it's one of the biggest sporting events in the world, but it's unclear if the NFL would consider staging the game abroad.
Maslin says he understands it's a goal that's likely still quite a ways in the future, but maintains Wembley wants the opportunity should it arise down the road:
"They are a very progressive organization so long, long, long term they might consider (a Super Bowl in London), but it's a hell of a call," Maslin said of the NFL. "Absolutely ... if they bring it anywhere in the world we want it here at Wembley."
Who knows, maybe one day the Three Lions and the Detroit Lions will call the same stadium home, at least for a few weeks.
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