SBD/January 20, 2012/Franchises

Rams Sign Three-Year Deal To Play One Home Game A Season In U.K.

Rams will be first NFL team to play regular-season games abroad on an annual basis
The Rams have agreed to play a home game in the U.K. for the next three seasons, beginning with a game on Oct. 28 against the Patriots at London's Wembley Stadium. The club becomes the first team to play regular-season games abroad on an annual basis. The '12 game will be broadcast by CBS (NFL). In St. Louis, Jim Thomas writes for a fan base “already worried about losing the team to Los Angeles because of a stadium lease clause at Edward Jones Dome, St. Louis is now reduced to only seven home games for the next three seasons.” With a team that “has won only 15 of its last 80 games, the Rams have struggled to get home games on television in recent seasons.” Thomas notes club seats for the Rams-Patriots game “go on sale Jan. 25; general admission seats will be available Feb. 2-3.” Meanwhile, London is the home of EPL club Arsenal, which is owned by Rams Owner Stan Kroenke (STLTODAY.com, 1/20). NFL Network's Albert Breer notes the Rams' three-year deal "coincides with the three years running up to the out in their lease in St. Louis" (TWITTER.com, 1/20). New Rams coach Jeff Fisher said playing the London games is a “very exciting opportunity for the franchise," and Kroenke “is very excited about it.” Pro Football Talk's Mike Florio asked Fisher if the issue of relocation came up "at all when you were talking to Stan Kroenke about taking over the team.” Fisher said relocation did come up and Kroenke was "very pointed about it and very direct." Fisher: "I was completely comfortable with where the situation is and what his outlook and his vision of this team is. It was something that was discussed. It was not a factor" ("The Dan Patrick Show," 1/20).

PLAYING ACROSS THE POND: SKY SPORTS' Paul Higham notes the move "could be a huge step towards an NFL team being based in London." There had been "talk of multiple games being played as the sport continues to grow across the Atlantic, but the NFL have taken another route in naming a team to make regular visits" (SKYSPORTS.com, 1/20). NFL Network's Jason La Canfora notes while there is a "growing sentiment that two regular season games will be heading to Europe," the Patriots-Rams game "will be only game played in UK in 2012." SI's Peter King wrote, "Next year not a great year for second int'l game in Europe, with so much attention and money spent on the London Olympics" (TWITTER.com, 1/20).

TWITTER REAX: St. Louis Post-Dispatch columnist Bernie Miklasz wrote on his Twitter account, “Big stretch to assume this is part of plot to move Rams to London, but surely team knew such speculation was inevitable, unavoidable.” The Big Lead's Jason McIntyre wrote, "The NFL has been using the threat of LA to get favorable stadium deals; now, the NFL is using London." SI's King wrote, "I bet Rams fans are really happy about seeing their best home game in 2012 shipped to London. Brady will never play in St. Louis again." Panini America VP/Marketing Jason Howarth wrote, "If you can't sellout in STL it's worth giving up a game to int'l.” The Washington Examiner's Jim Williams wrote, "Let me get this straight. The @NFL is trying to grow their brand worldwide by playing in #London & they are using the @Rams? Interesting.”
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