It may be just a matter of time before an NFL team moves across the pond.
The NFL will kick off its 11th season in London on Sunday with a matchup between the Baltimore Ravens and Jacksonville Jaguars, and there are three more games in the U.K.’s capital left this season. The league’s goal was to have a team in London by the International Series’ 15-year anniversary, and NFL executive vice president of international Mark Waller told Sports Illustrated on Wednesday that still could happen.
“We’ve proven clearly that the level of support is here from a fan perspective, a stadium and stadium ownership perspective and from a city and government perspective,” Waller said. “We’ll get a lot of support if and when we need it.”
As you could imagine, there are plenty of logistical problems that come with having a team in an American sports league move to Europe. There’s the issue of time zones and a question as to whether the team would have steady support for a full season as opposed to a few games. Waller said an English team likely would have an American base in the southeast, but even that wouldn’t completely eradicate some of the inconveniences that come with being located between four and eight time zones away from every other team.
Waller hopes the NFL will be able to schedule a team for back-to-back London games next season — it wasn’t possible this year — to see how the adjustment could affect an entire season. But at the end of the day, the league still is confident that someone could step up in the coming years.
“All of the things that we talked about confirm our belief that it’s a very doable possibility,” Waller said. “This year we’ll do four games, and 40,000 tickets for each game are bought by the same people, so as far as building a season-ticket base, that’s a meaningful number now. And the fact that we’ve got so many teams that have been over here and have had a good experience is a huge positive.
“We feel confident that the fan base is here, and that the logistics work.”
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