Despite NFL's Rapidly Growing U.K. Fanbase, League Says London Team Still Far Off
The NFL's fanbase in the U.K. has "grown rapidly since the international series began" in '07, but NFL Senior VP/Int'l Chris Parsons "isn't ready to say the NFL is close to putting a team in London full-time," according to Tom Pelissero of USA TODAY. Parsons said, "I certainly would want us to be even bigger in the U.K. before we made a move like that, which clearly wouldn't be something that would happen in the near term." Pelissero noted the NFL Int'l Series for the first time "will put two games in London," including Vikings-Steelers on Sept. 29. Vikings VP/Public Affairs & Stadium Development Lester Bagley said that data shows the NFL's fanbase in the U.K. has "doubled since 2007" to 11.3 million. Parsons offered a "more conservative estimate," but he "confirmed the number of U.K. fans is in the 'multiple millions' even when excluding those who, for instance, only watch the Super Bowl." Parsons said there are "well over 2 million of those," and the league has "a significant proportion of those in our NFL database and we communicate with them frequently." He added, "We know a significant portion of those will also watch the games week-in, week-out, and buy all of our products." Pelissero wrote the "biggest unknown" about an NFL team in London is whether fans "from far beyond the city limits would be willing to make the trip for 10 home games a year." Parsons said, "Will people come to every game if they're coming down from Scotland? I don't know. But I think we want to really focus in and build that fan base in the surrounding area of London as much as we possibly can" (USATODAY.com, 9/18).