Vikings set to go global, play game in London
OCT 16, 2012 4:57p ET
The NFL officially announced Tuesday that the Vikings will play one of two NFL games next season in London's historic Wembley Stadium. Minnesota, which had previously announced interest in being one of the teams to play a home game in London, will host the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sept. 29, 2013.
The occasion, announced following Tuesday's owners meetings, marks the first time in league history two regular-season games will be played in London. The Jacksonville Jaguars, who are scheduled to play one home game in London from 2013-16, will host the San Francisco 49ers on Oct. 27, 2013 in the second game of NFL's continuing International Series, which has featured one game in London every season since 2007.
"This is going to be a great opportunity for the Vikings franchise to represent and improve the brand of the Vikings and just a unique opportunity to create great awareness and exposure for the team and for the state on our international stage," Vikings owner/president Mark Wilf said. "So we embrace the opportunity. It's going to be a great, great experience."
Minnesota's participation is part of a one-year commitment to play in London and will be the first game in the United Kingdom for the team since a 1983 preseason game, the NFL's first game in London. Wilf said the possibility of further Minnesota games in London hasn't been discussed.
The Vikings had expressed interest in replacing the St. Louis Rams, who had reportedly been selected to play at least two home games in London before backing out earlier this year to focus on a new stadium in St. Louis to replace the Edward Jones Dome.
Minnesota was a prime candidate after receiving financing for a new $975 million stadium, which will have the team displaced from its current stadium, the Metrodome, for at least one season.
"The No. 1 driver to this thing was, giving the transition into the new stadium in 2016, we just felt this was an opportunity to really grow our brand, grow awareness and also be an exciting opportunity for our fans worldwide," Wilf said, calling it an "opportune time" to help the league grow the game internationally.
The Vikings, who haven't played overseas since 1994, when they played a game in Tokyo, will play at least one season outside the Metrodome during construction of the new stadium. The team has an agreement to play home games at TCF Bank Stadium on the University of Minnesota campus during construction. In the Metrodome, the Vikings' revenues rank 31st out of 32 teams. Wilf said there are policies in place with the league to help teams with the loss of revenue while hosting a game overseas and losing one home game in the process.
Next year's game will mark Pittsburgh's first game in London.
"Since we started playing regular-season games in London five years ago, we have heard very clearly from our UK fans – they want more football," NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said in a release. "We are excited to play two games in London and take this next step in the growth of our game. We believe that more football will lead to more fans."
This season's International Series involves St. Louis and the New England Patriots, who play Sunday, Oct. 28. The game is expected to be a sellout, with a crowd of more than 80,000.
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