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Two NFL Games Headed Overseas in '10

Dec 14, 2009 – 9:50 PM
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Chris Burke

Chris Burke %BloggerTitle%

Wembley StadiumConfirming a rumor that's been floating around for a while, NFL UK managing director Alistair Kirkwood told BBC 5 that the NFL plans to play two regular-season games in London next season. The league has held a game in Wembley Stadium for each of the past three years.

"We've got two teams that have agreed conceptually to be home teams. We're currently trying to get the opposition confirmed," Kirkwood said.

New England scored a 35-7 win over Tampa Bay in the NFL's annual trip across the pond, which took place in Week 7 this season. The Saints beat the Chargers in the 2008 visit to Wembley, and the Giants edged out the Dolphins in 2007, the NFL's inaugural England game.

More than 84,000 fans took in the Patriots-Buccaneers game in October, and the NFL's reception in England has been almost universally positive, so much so that talk of eventually moving a team overseas has gained some support. The UFL, which just completed its first season, has brought up the possibility of expanding to European markets as well.

According to the BBC, London is "likely to host both games" next season, but other venues could be sought if the NFL continues to schedule multiple games in the United Kingdom -- and especially if the league further bulks up its international slate.

"We're keen to play outside of London, but the teams themselves feel more comfortable being in London," Kirkwood said. "I've got an ambition to take the game to Scotland and Wales but it's probably not likely to happen in 2010."

The idea to move games overseas has become more popular across America's four major sports. Major League Baseball has opened its season in Japan on multiple occasions, while the NHL hosted regular-season games in both Finland and Sweden in 2009. The NBA has not yet played a regular-season game overseas, but has done so with preseason contests.

It's a bit of a different animal in the NFL, though, where teams play just eight home games during the regular season, as opposed to 41 in hockey and 81 in baseball. It would be perfectly understandable for an NFL season-ticket holder to be miffed when a team shifts one of its home dates to an overseas venue.

That said, the NFL's experiment with London hasn't been met with too much backlash. And the opportunity for commissioner Roger Goodell to generate interest from areas outside North America is one that's too great to pass up.
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