NFL Commissioner Says League 'Further Down The Road' To Securing London Franchise
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell disclosed that London "was 'further down the road' to securing the first gridiron franchise" outside the U.S. after all three regular-season games at Wembley scheduled for this fall "were confirmed as sell-outs," according to Oliver Brown of the London TELEGRAPH. In his annual state-of-the-league address at the Lincoln Centre in Manhattan, Goodell "gave his strongest suggestion yet" that a sequence of 11 straight sold-out London games since '07 "could persuade the NFL to base a team permanently in the capital." Goodell: “I believe that the response to the third game in the U.K., and the way that the fans have embraced that and sold it out in such a short period of time, is just another sign that the more we give the fans there, the more they want. That’s a great tribute to their passion.” In "an intriguing twist," EPL Arsenal majority shareholder and NFL St. Louis Rams Owner Stan Kroenke "is being linked to a potential Los Angeles project" after it emerged this week that he had bought a 60-acre development plot in the city’s Inglewood suburb (TELEGRAPH, 1/31).
LOOKING AHEAD: In London, Paolo Bandini reported the NFL has been hosting games annually in London as part of its Int'l Series since '07. Asked by a journalist from Atlanta what the Falcons could expect to gain from their experience in London, Goodell "was effusive about the support for the game that he had seen in London." Goodell: "I think you’re going to be amazed at the passion for football over there" (GUARDIAN, 1/31). The AFP reported Goodell admitted that the quick sellout hat trick "had caught the NFL's attention." Goodell: "What our next step is I don't know. That is something we're going to have to evaluate" (AFP, 1/31).
MATTER OF TIME: In London, Joe Mewis wrote how willing will the NFL be "to take the next step and award London it’s very own full-time franchise?" Darren Fletcher, who will cover the Super Bowl for Absolute Radio, said it is a matter of "when," not "if." Fletcher: "There’s a real desire at the head offices of the NFL in New York to continue to grow the game globally, and they've decided that London is the best market for that" (DAILY MIRROR, 2/1).
SOUTH OF THE BORDER: Goodell said of having games in Mexico, "One of our fastest-growing audience segments are Hispanic fans." He added, "We're proud of that. That's intentional. We're working harder to reach those fans, introduce them to the game or if they are already great fans we want to give them more of the game and you're seeing that through all of our media offerings." Goodell said "we have great coverage" in Mexico and "what we're trying to do is figure out new ways of engaging those fans" (NFL Network, 1/31).