Patriots owner Robert Kraft is pushing hard to get an NFL franchise in London, saying that it would be a good experience for the teams and the people of the city, as American football is beginning to take off in the UK.
That may be true, but putting an NFL team overseas is not a good idea.
First of all, we're talking about a six-hour flight one way for the Patriots and a 12-hour flight one way for West Coast teams like the Chargers, 49ers and Seahawks. When you add up the total travel time, especially for West Coast teams, it's a full day of travel for a 60-minute football game. That doesn't make much sense for a regular season contest.
It would certainly be great for American football to have a place in London, but not a team. If the Super Bowl could instead be hosted in London every year, that would be a special occasion and well worth the travel. Expensive? Yes. But well worth it.
On the contrary, would it be worth it for fans to continue traveling overseas for a regular season football game? With how much that would be spent on airfare and hotel stays, the actual cost of tickets would have to be really cheap, which likely wouldn't be the case. The luster of traveling there would also die down, and sitting on your comfy couch in your living room while watching the game on NFL Sunday Ticket — or whatever DIRECTV calls it these days — for a lot less sounds pretty nice.
It would still be great for London fans to get involved with American football on a weekly basis instead of just a few meaningless exhibition games or an annual regular season game, though, which makes playing the Super Bowl there an intriguing idea. If London fans knew The Big Game was rapidly approaching and that it was taking place on their turf, they may be more apt to follow the NFL consistently.
Also, while fans like to go see their team play on the road, London is a long haul for a weekend trip, meaning that putting a franchise there would take away from a potential city that could be easier to access. Plus, the five-hour time difference between London and the Eastern Time Zone creates a whole separate set of issues.
So Mr. Kraft, you are a great owner and a well-respected man, but you're way off in wanting to permanently put a franchise in London.