NFL reaches 10-year stadium deal with Totttenham's new stadium
LONDON -- The NFL will stage at least two regular-season games each season at Premier League club Tottenham's new London stadium over a 10-year period under a deal announced Wednesday.
Tottenham is hoping to move into a new 61,000-seat venue adjacent to its current White Hart Lane stadium in 2018. It will feature a retractable grass field with an artificial surface underneath that would be used for American football.
"With growing enthusiasm for the NFL in the United Kingdom, we are committed to hosting NFL games in world-class venues and are excited to partner with Tottenham Hotspur to play games at their future stadium," NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said in a statement.
London Mayor Boris Johnson said the Tottenham deal will "help us take another step towards our goal of having a permanent NFL franchise here."
The NFL currently has two years remaining on its deal with Wembley Stadium, the 90,000-seat north London venue where 11 regular-season games have been played since 2007. England's national soccer stadium will host three more NFL games this year.
The NFL said it was "optimistic" the relationship with Wembley would be extended beyond 2016, with the 10-year Tottenham deal not preventing games being played elsewhere in Britain.
The Jacksonville Jaguars has a four-season deal, which expires in 2016, to play at least one-regular season home game at Wembley. The Jaguars have been touted as a potential future London franchise, given that owner Shad Khan bought London soccer club Fulham in 2013.
"We've seen incredible growth in the Jaguars' international following that can be traced specifically to our agreement to play a home game at Wembley Stadium through 2016," Khan said in a statement, which didn't detail the Jaguars' post-2016 plans in the British capital.
Although Tottenham will be rivaling Wembley as an NFL venue, the team might need to use the venue to play games during the final phase of construction work at its home for the last 116 years.
Tottenham has been trying to move out of White Hart Lane for several years, with the 36,000-capacity hampering the club's money-making abilities. North London rival Arsenal has been playing for almost a decade at the Emirates Stadium, which has around 60,000 seats.
"We have an opportunity now to deliver one of the most unique sporting and entertainment venues in the world, bringing together the EPL and NFL for the first time," Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy said.
Tottenham failed in a bid to take over London's Olympic Stadium after the 2012 Games. It will become the new home of Premier League club West Ham in 2016 and is also seeking NFL games.