The arrival of American football games to the UK capital has captured the imagination of London’s sports fans. The NFL London games played in 2019 are the result of years of careful planning and part of a grand vision for sport in the city.
Not everyone is aware that London had already hosted 18 NFL games before this year. In fact, the NFL London tie-in can be traced back to 2007. Since then, close to one and a half million fans have watched the games played here.
Before 2019, all of the American football matches in London have been played at Wembley Stadium or Twickenham. That will change this year, as the new Spurs stadium has been designed with this sport in mind.
The very first NFL spectacle in London saw the Miami Dolphins and the New York Giants compete in the pouring rain at Wembley. It carried on as a single game a year until 2015, when the number went up to two. Since 2017, four NFL London games have been held each year.
Once 2019’s round of games is over, the city will have seen a total of 28 NFL matches over the years. In fact, only one of the 32 current NFL teams won’t have played here. This missing team is Green Bay Packers.
The games and dates
Two of these games will be played at Wembley Stadium, and the other two at the new Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.
The first game will be between Oakland Raiders and the Chicago Bears. It will be played at the new Spurs venue on the 6th of October. On the 13th of the same month, the Carolina Panthers take on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the same stadium.
The 27th of October sees the current NFL champions, the Los Angeles Rams, take on the Cincinnati Bengals at Wembley. On the 3rd of November, it is the turn of the Houston Texans to play Florida favourites Jacksonville Jaguars at Wembley.
The games are to be shown live on Sky Sports. If you enjoy watching regular NFL games or just placing bets on your favourite teams, you can also watch a lot of the action from the US live in the UK, although you might need to use a VPN in some cases. BetAmerica is an online betting website that you can visit to place your bets and be updated about NFL news.
Why Tottenham’s stadium?
The new Spurs stadium has a capacity of over 62,000 and is the biggest club arena in London. As part of its design, it incorporates the first-ever dividing and retractable football surface.
Once the pitch has been moved away, a synthetic surface is revealed, which is where the NFL matches will be taking place. It can also handle music concerts and other big events. Even behind the scenes, there are dressing room areas that have been specifically designed to handle the size and requirements of NFL rosters.
Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy is widely credited as being the driving force behind this happening. In global terms, this venue will become number 186 on the list of places that have played host to an NFL game over the years.
What does the future hold?
Will the UK eventually have its own American football franchise? This seems like the logical conclusion to the growing number of NFL games played here. The clever ideas built into the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium give us an idea of how football teams in the capital could make a permanent base for their own NFL teams.
As the sport grows in popularity over here, it may only be a matter of time before the authorities find a way to make American football a permanent fixture in the UK’s sporting calendar.