It’s Thursday afternoon and I’m at White Hart Lane, the home of Spurs but more importantly, for now, the home of the new purpose-built NFL stadium in the capital.
Present at today’s announcement, hosted by Sky Sports Neil Reynolds are Mark Waller (NFL Executive Vice-President of Events & International); Daniel Levy (Chairman, Tottenham Hotspur); Martin Glenn (Chief Executive, The Football Association); Osi Umenyiora (two-time Super Bowl winner and BBC pundit).
This Year’s Fixtures
There has been lots of speculation about which teams we would get in 2018, with Alistair Kirkwood teasing that he was pushing to get the six remaining teams who haven’t played here in the series.
Well, the wait is over (and I can’t string this out any further 🙂 ), here are the all important names.
Seahawks at Raiders – Week 8, 14th October, Tottenham
Eagles at Jaguars – Week 7 or 8, 21st or 28th October, Wembley
Titans at Chargers – Week 7 or 8, 21st or 28th October, Wembley
“We continue to be very excited by the growth of the NFL in the UK,”
Said NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. “The fans have demonstrated outstanding support and passion for the NFL over the past 11 seasons and we look forward to some great games in London this year. A key feature of our success is playing in iconic, world-renowned venues like Wembley and Twickenham, and we look forward to playing in what will be another incredible setting for NFL football at Tottenham’s new stadium.”
Mark Waller, NFL Executive Vice-President of Events and International, said: “This is another important year as we develop our plans for London and the UK. By playing games on three consecutive weeks we will learn a lot, both from the fans buying tickets and attending games and from a logistics and organisational standpoint.
When the 2017 games were announced there were many who saw the slate as less than stellar, however, with the benefit of hindsight, all winning teams went on to the playoffs and all took divisional crowns. So let’s hope that this year’s fixtures prove that trips to London are very worthwhile and we keep the teams coming until we can have our own franchise.
London hosted its first regular-season NFL game in 2007 and the NFL says there has been “accelerated growth” in audience figures since then. It says the UK has a fan base of more than 13 million people.
The New Stadium
The NFL has invested £10 million in Tottenham’s new stadium. The 61,000-capacity venue due to open this year will feature a retractable grass pitch with an artificial surface underneath for NFL games, it will also have customised features such as purpose-built locker rooms, medical and media facilities and a dedicated entrance.
The NFL and Tottenham Hotspur announced in 2015 that they had reached agreement for a minimum of two games per year to be played during a 10-year partnership.
Mayor of London Sadiq Khan said: “London is the international home of the NFL and I am really excited to welcome the world’s best American football stars and their thousands of fans from around the globe back to our city.
“I’m delighted Tottenham Hotspur’s fantastic new stadium is joining the line-up of world-class sports arenas in our great city. Spurs’ new ground will stage one game in its first year of opening and in 2019 we look forward to going back to staging at least four NFL games in London. Once again, London has shown why it is the sporting capital of the world and open to the very best sports events.”
As there are already 40,000 season ticket holders for the London International Series games it’s expected that demand for tickets will be extremely high.
Answering my question, Mark Waller said that Wembley would be the contingency should White Hart Lane not be ready.