|NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft. (AP Photo/Stephan Savoia)|
Starting in 2007, the NFL started hosting regular season games at Wembley Stadium in London, England. With that the NFL’s dominance in the US began to spread across the pond to the nation whose shackles we threw off in 1776. Only one game, the 2011 contest between the Bears and Bucs failed to draw over 80,000 fans, and that still drew over 76,000. The NFL knew it was king in the US and now after seven years of playing in London, with two games in 2013, it knows it has a chance to be king in Merry Ole England too. So much so they have scheduled three games in London in 2014, and have scheduled the Jaguars to play one home game a year in London in 2014, 2015 and 2016.
At a Thursday Night Football Robert Kraft, Patriots Owner and head of the NFL broadcasting committee, said to the collected media that, reprinted from NFL.com, “...we should work hard to try and have a franchise in London before the decade was out.”
Based on fan reception it is a no brainer and with a total capacity of 86,000 fans, Wembley Stadium would immediately fall into the top 10 of NFL stadiums based on total capacity. Its simple supply and demand.
There are thousands of questions involved with either moving a team, or adding a team. One was answered when Roger Goodell, NFL Commissioner said that were the NFL to expand its number of teams it would do so by two, not one. Enter the City of Angels.
"We would like to do that, " said Goddell during the same Thursday Night Football Panel, via NFL.com. "We think there's a great opportunity to be successful (in Los Angeles). I think opportunity's starting to develop, maybe in part because we have that long-term planning in front of us."
If I had to guess the NFL long term planning didn't have anything to do with team expansion, but with schedule expansion and moving two struggling teams, one to L.A. and one to London. An inability to prevent concussions has continually squashed negotiations between the NFL and the NFLPA about an 18 game regular season. How does the NFL create more revenue without expanding the schedule? Expand the league.
Adding two teams will allow the NFL to add a second bye week to each teams schedule. This not only helps with the fears about concussions and adequate rest during the season, but allows teams to travel to London and get back without having to incur huge travel complications of playing a game on Sunday in London and another the next Sunday on the West Coast.
Being rebuffed by the NFLPA over the expanded schedule was the first blow the NFL owners have suffered in recent years as they have continually grown and increased their dominance as the US’s premier sport. While it took a little longer than they initially thought, and it certainly isn’t done, they seem on pace to have new teams in London and L.A. in the next 5-10 years, and it hardly too Sherlock Holmes to solve the mystery, just creativity. In the end the owners will add to their piles of money in their Scrooge McDuck like money-bins, but this time half the new influx of cash will be Euros. What’s next, the Yen?
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