Should NFL Move Team to London?
One of the most, if not THE most, controversial issues in the NFL is whether a current football team should be moved to the city of London, England. The expansion of the beloved American sport has sparked many positive and negative opinions on the topic from fans everywhere, even within the Pace community. In an informal poll of Pace Upper School students, 75 students did not want to see an NFL team move overseas while 55 students would like to see a British football team play in the league in the near future.
The NFL began the idea for an international team in 2007 with the creation of the NFL International Series. The first game played on British soil was the Miami Dolphins versus the New York Giants on Oct. 28, 2007. The Giants defeated the Dolphins 13-10, and 40,000 British fans were in attendance to witness this obscure American sport. Since that first game, six more games have been played and five more have been planned for 2012-2016. The games are played at Wembley Stadium and draw crowds that now attract up to 80,000 fans. Most recently, the New England Patriots defeated the St. Louis Rams 45-7 in front of a crowd of 84,000. The results of this International Series project have been positive, and indicate the possibility for future success if a team were to be transferred to London. The teams that are most likely to be considered for the move are the Jacksonville Jaguars, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and the St. Louis Rams.
Many argue that the benefits of a possible expansion to London would outweigh the negatives. The good that can come from the move is evident. The Rams and Buccaneers are both under co-ownership with teams in the English Premier League, the top soccer league in England. The owner of the Rams also owns the Arsenal Football Club and the Buccaneers’ owner also owns Manchester United. Both owners are obviously familiar with the English economy and methods of generating revenue through a sports team. The generation of almost an entirely new fan base in a foreign nation would boost merchandise sales within the league as millions of new and curious fans bought jerseys, shirts, and other NFL items to support their city’s new team. New television deals with British networks would boost the income of the NFL enormously.
Not only would a successful move to Britain generate massive revenue for the league, it would open up a new door to the expansion of American football to the rest of the world. In 2005 in Mexico City, the Arizona Cardinals played the San Francisco 49ers and over 103,000 fans came out to watch the event. The NFL has claimed that it is too soon to tell if the International Series will be expanded to other countries, but with the success of the British campaign comes the possible creation of programs throughout the world.
The arguments against an NFL expansion are also reasonable and worth considering. An away team in California would need to travel on a plane for up to 13 1/2 hours in order to play their British opponent. It is also a possibility that the team would just fail to be successful and the sport would never catch on in London. Football is traditionally an American sport and it cannot yet be determined if British culture would embrace the introduction of a new sport to the capitol city. A failure could cripple the league. The NFL would rapidly decline because of the massive losses of money invested in the English team. Another major argument is that the NFL is traditionally an American sport and therefore should never attempt to expand beyond the U.S. The name of the league is the National Football League, not the International Football league. While expansion is possible and supported by many, a lot of people think that the worst case scenario is too real a possibility for a move to be attempted.
With many NFL owners so supportive of the International Series, such as Patriots owner Robert Kraft, the NFL will experiment with playing games in London through 2016. Many hope that the possibility of a successful move will be evident by the final game. It is currently too soon to tell, and with expansion overseas a question mark, the supporters and doubters of this program are left to argue with each other.
By Josh Sloan, Staff Writer ’14