SBD/June 6, 2013/Leagues and Governing Bodies

NFL Focuses On Creating London Franchise As Means To Grow Brand Worldwide

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell's "eyes remain fixed across the Atlantic, and that's not going to change," according to Jason La Canfora of La Canfora wrote, "A few years back if you had asked me about the likelihood of an NFL franchise in London, I'd have said, sometime in my lifetime, maybe in the next 25 years. Ask me now, and I'd say we'll see football -- American football -- being played on Sundays at Wembley Stadium within the next 10 years (possibly 5 to 7)." The "tone has changed" regarding team execs' "impression of the league's flirtation with London." It "used to be more of an 'if' scenario," but now it is "more like 'when' we start playing in London." A London franchise "might not quite be impending, but everything the league has done in recent years -- including adding more regular-season games at Wembley" and having the Jaguars play a game there annually "signals that this is no passing fancy." Goodell's "buzzword is innovation, and he is always pushing others to explore new horizons." NFL officials "look at the popularity of sports like soccer worldwide" and "see tremendous room for growth." The league at some point "might lose its chokehold on the wallets of the American sporting consumer," but it has "only just begun to exploit the possible revenue streams on a global level" (, 6/5).

MISPLACED PRIORITIES? Columnist Kevin Blackistone said Goodell has a "fascination" with placing a franchise in London, "but it is a pipe dream, not going to happen, shouldn't happen, no reason for it to happen." ESPN's Pablo Torre said, "This is something that Roger Goodell has been planning for. He sees David Stern grow the NBA internationally. He wants what that guy has." ESPN's Bomani Jones said Goodell has "got to meet these revenue projections he's been making about making a gazillion dollars by 2025," and there is "only but so much money left to be made" in the U.S. Denver Post columnist Woody Paige said of Goodell, "I think he's intent on having to do this over a period of years, but before you do that why not put a team in Los Angeles that's in our own country? I think that's the first priority" ("Around The Horn," ESPN, 6/5).
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