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Should the NFL Play More Games in London?


The NFL and its 32 owners voted today to keep playing games in London, England for the foreseeable future. For at least the next five years, the NFL will schedule a game in London. In fact, the resolution that passed today gives the NFL the power to schedule more then one game in England. 

The really big news is they want to name a permanent London home team to explore the idea of one day placing a franchise in London full time. The strategy seems sound, as two different teams going over seas every year is not a really accurate test of what the NFL could do in England. Giving one team multiple games over there gives said team a chance to create a vibrant sustainable fan base in England. 

For example the Buffalo Bills play one regular season game a year in Toronto, Canada in an effort to expand that team's fan base. For London, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers make the most sense as they played a game there in 2009 and will return to London later this year. The Glazer family, which owns the Bucs, also owns the Manchester United soccer club, which gives them a leg up in England theoretically. 

Of course if the Bucs were to move to London full time they would be giving up a spot in the four or five regular city rotation for the Super Bowl. Hosting that game certainly comes with a big financial upside, but being the only NFL team in a foreign country could be a big boost financially as well. 

Tampa currently is second worst in NFL attendance. They have sold just over 82% of their tickets and are averaging just over 54 thousand fans per home game. The team has abandoned the policy of buying up the extra seats to get Bucs home games on local TV, so we could argue that the Bucs are in a shrinking market struggling to stay financially viable. Granted their 2-3 start is not helping nor is a 48-3 loss to the San Francisco 49ers this week. 

In the end I kind of like the idea of having a team in London. It makes things interesting, but it will increase travel costs for all the teams, and I still remember the financial failure that NFL Europa was. However in this day and age the NFL will have to move teams to where the fans and therefore the money is. I would complete a move back to Los Angeles before trying a team in a foreign country, but I think that day is coming. I think sooner rather than later there will be a NFL team not only in Toronto full time but in London as well. 

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