NFL eyes London's Olympic Stadium for franchise, possibly Jags
NOV 21, 2013 3:38p ET
The NFL's International Committee is involved in talks to bring a franchise, perhaps the Jacksonville Jaguars, to London, possibly as soon as 2017, sources told FOXSports.com.
However, an audible is in the works on what venue will house the team.
FOXSports.com has learned that the Olympic Stadium is being configured to work for different seating capacities for futbol and football. The retractable seating will enable greater attendance for soccer matches, while football will be significantly less.
The NFL International Committee has been working diligently on feasibility studies to gauge how successful a NFL team would be in London. Wembley has been home to the NFL International Series games since 2007. Year in and year out, Wembley has sold out NFL games, virtually every single one.
In order to continue selling out games, the NFL International Committee has been moving methodically and picking up the work load, adding games every year for an eventual eight-game slate.
According to sources, the Olympic Stadium's managing group is spending a fortune on retractable seating that would enable the capacity to shrink to 54,000 by 2016. That's when West Ham United, a Premier League soccer team, takes up residency.
Here is the math: Skeptics believe 80,000 tickets eight times a year is the magic number, but Jacksonville Jaguars owner Shahid Khan, commissioner Roger Goodell and the NFL international committee know they need to sell around 432,000 golden tickets per season.
This can be reached even with a smaller seating capacity eight times a year and when you add the vast amount of pounds and euros fans will be spending on merchandise each year here is your money-spinning London franchise. The Jag-you-ars, as Austin Powers would say.
For some history: Since 2007, Wembley Stadium has been hosting NFL games.
This season, the Minnesota Vikings played host to the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Jacksonville Jaguars played host to the San Francisco 49ers on Sept. 29 and Oct. 27, respectively. Whether it's soccer or football, the one thing these teams have in common is that they all played in front of sellout crowds with more than 83,500 fans in attendance per contest.
This is a good sign for the NFL especially with three games scheduled for 2014, it appears that even more market research will take place in order to see how quickly A quarter-million tickets will disappear.
With every NFL market accounted for besides Los Angeles, once can forecast that there is room for two potential franchise moves that make dollars and pence for the NFL. One being in LA and the other being London.
The question for Goodell and second-year owner Khan is can a NFL team sell out eight games a year and close to 450,000 seats? And, remember, if the ticketing sales take off, the seating is retractable and more space -- and revenue -- is there for the taking.
Khan, who has maintained he plans to keep the Jaguars in Florida, believes so at least in the immediate future. Khan has struck a four-year deal to be the home team for NFL games at Wembley through 2016. Since the Jags can't sell out in Jacksonville, Khan, the worldly businessman, and his Jags are poised to be the most viable option to make the voyage full time across the pond.
Players would not shy away from the international brand building potential of playing in a London-based NFL market. Yes, a lot of us love the attention and the limelight. Drawing from the populous of two countries, NFL star power and popularity could reach stratospheric proportions.
This is the type of growth and ROI the NFL is looking for in a market that has a finite (U.S.) amount of growth left in it. With 53 million more people to draw on, adding an NFL team to England could potentially turn a relatively unpopular American team (Jacksonville) into potentially the most popular team in the NFL.
The demographic of NFL fans attending games at Wembley consists of primarily the UK but there are also large numbers of German and Scandanavian fans in attendance as well.
The UK is a perfect launching pad to penetrate the rest of the European market. With Khan's international ties this could be a foreseeable possibility in the next five years or less opposed to the NFL's international committee's 10-year outlook. While NFL Europe didn't thrive, many of the teams were German-based or ended up there due to economic reasons. There are still semi-pro football teams and A huge interest in the NFL in Germany.
With this in mind look for there to be four games at Wembley in 2015. With the three-game deal already in place for 2014 a P&L with more than 240,000 ticket sales will be attained.
When 2015 ticket sales reach the 330,000 mark it's more or less a green light that Brits and Europeans will indeed watch the NFL no matter who's playing, even Jacksonville.