Thursday, October 18, 2012

NFL adds second game in London, England next season

The NFL announced on Oct. 17 that a second regular-season game will be played at the famed Wembley Stadium in London, England next year. The contest will be between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Minnesota Vikings and it will take place on Sept. 29. The Vikings are currently 4-2 this season and sit in second place in the NFC North Division while the Steelers are in third place in the AFC North after getting off to a rocky start of 2-3.

The Vikings are scheduled to move into a new stadium in 2016 and currently play in the Hubert H Humphrey Metrodome. The team has a flexible lease at its present stadium which means it’s not under contract to play all of their games at the Metrodome. The league owners met in Chicago recently and approved the game.
Roger Goodell, the league’s commissioner, said the NFL started playing regular season games in England five years ago and the British fans have made it clear that they’d look as much live American football as they can get. He added that the league is excited and looking forward to holding two games at Wembley next season as a start and that more games will lead to more NFL fans in the nation.

Mark Wilf, the president and owner of the Vikings said that his team definitely wants to take advantage of the opportunity of playing in England and sees it as a chance to highlight the club on the international level. Art Rooney II, the president of the Steelers, echoed those thoughts when he said that Pittsburgh is thrilled to be taking part in the game and he’s glad that fans in other parts of the world will be able to soak in the atmosphere at the historic Wembley Stadium.

The other NFL game in London next season will be between the Jacksonville Jaguars and the San Francisco 49ers and will be held on Oct. 27. The Jaguars have committed to playing four of their regular season home games at Wembley over the next four years. They will play one game in London each season between 2013 and 2016 with next year’s contest against San Francisco being the first of them.

British NFL fans will also be treated to a game this season as the New England Patriots will lock horns against the St Louis Rams at Wembley on Sunday Oct. 28. at 5 pm local time.  Tickets for adults cost between 50 and 100 British pounds (approximately U.S. $85 to $161) Club seats can be bought for 149 pounds ($240) while children under 16 are admitted for just 17.50 pounds ($28).

In total, nine different NFL teams have flown across the /Atlantic Ocean to help promote the NFL and themselves since the 2007 season. The first game in England was between the New York Giants and Miami Dolphins. In general, the NFL contests do very well in London, with Wembley Stadium usually selling out and attracting over 84,000 fans to each game.

Ian Palmer
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