NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell announced Tuesday at the league’s fall meeting in Washington, D.C. that the NFL has named the Oakland Raiders as one of three hosts for a football game in 2014 at Wembley Stadium. The other two teams chosen were the Jacksonville Jaguars and the Atlanta Falcons. Their opponents and the dates of the games will be announced later this season.
In the past the NFL has had just one regular season game in London, with this season moving up to two. That second game (between the Jacksonville Jaguars and San Francisco 49ers) has not even been played yet.
But, in an effort to continue to expand overseas, the NFL has added a third regular season game to the lineup. They have an expanding fanbase in the United Kingdom, one that saw 520,000 people attend the NFL Block Party prior to a game earlier this season between the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Minnesota Vikings. That game ending drawing 83,000 attendees as well, so there is a definite demand for the NFL.
The league also says that “television ratings have shown substantial growth in the UK since 2006 – with Sunday viewership of NFL games almost doubling and the Super Bowl audience having increased 75 percent.”
“Both of this year’s games in London sold out quickly,” commissioner Roger Goodell said. ”The fan enthusiasm for our sport continues to grow. By playing two games in the UK this year, we are creating more fans. We hope that with three games in London next year we will attract even more people to our game.”
“We are excited and embrace this great opportunity to assist in building NFL popularity worldwide,” said Raiders Owner Mark Davis. “The Raiders are truly a global brand and we are looking forward to our home-field advantage at the new Wembley Stadium.”
While this is not doubt great for the league, and even the organization, there are the season-ticket holders who will be losing out on a home game next season. Considering the Raiders have some of the most dedicated fans in the league, perhaps there could be some backlash coming.