Since the 2007 season, the NFL International Series has grown increasingly popular across the pond. The first game saw the New York Giants defeating the Miami Dolphins 13 – 10 at Wembley Stadium in London and boasted an attendance of 81,176. This attendance figure shows the attendance for every International Series game played to date:
|Date||Visiting Team||Score||Home Team||Score||Attendance|
|October 28, 2007||New York Giants||13||Miami Dolphins||10||81,176|
|October 26, 2008||San Diego Chargers||32||New Orleans Saints||37||83,226|
|October 25, 2009||New England Patriots||35||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||7||84,254|
|October 31, 2010||Denver Broncos||16||San Francisco 49ers||24||83,941|
|October 23, 2011||Chicago Bears||24||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||18||76,981|
|October 28, 2012||New England Patriots||45||St. Louis Rams||7||84,004|
|September 29, 2013||Pittsburgh Steelers||27||Minnesota Vikings||34||83,518|
|October 27, 2013||San Francisco 49ers||42||Jacksonville Jaguars||10||83,559|
|September 28, 2014||Miami Dolphins||38||Oakland Raiders||14||83,436|
|October 26, 2014||Detroit Lions||22||Atlanta Falcons||21||83,532|
|November 9, 2014||Dallas Cowboys||31||Jacksonville Jaguars||17||83,603|
|October 4, 2015||New York Jets||27||Miami Dolphins||14||83,986|
|October 25, 2015||Buffalo Bills||31||Jacksonville Jaguars||34||84,021|
|November 1, 2015||Detroit Lions||10||Kansas City Chiefs||45||83,624|
As the season comes to a close it looks like the three NFL games played in London at Wembley Stadium will be the highest average attendance for the 2015/2016 season. These attendance numbers have sparked a debate asking; why not move an NFL team to London?
Analysts and media entities think that a likely candidate for the move would be the Jacksonville Jaguars. The Jaguars average attendance figures since 2010 - 2014 have been: 63,032, 62,331, 64,984, 59,940, and 65,541 respectively. A move to London would undoubtedly increase attendance and, in turn, increase revenue for the franchise. While these figures would are plenty of incentive for the NFL, there are other factors to consider.
Those who oppose the expansion cite lengthy travel times, exchange rates, and other concerns as to why an NFL team in London would be a difficult transition for players and employees of the franchise. While these are legitimate concerns, analysts seem to think that a new bargaining agreement would give members of the expansion franchise salaries and benefits on a level competitive with the teams in the United States.
MLB is Closing the Popularity Gap with the NFL
An expansion to London would be a great move not only for the NFL, but also for the sport of football as a whole. Over the past few years, Americans have increasingly chosen Major League Baseball over the NFL as their favorite sport. According to the annual study called the Harris Poll, at its peak of popularity in 2011 (36%), the NFL had a 23% lead over the MLB as the favorite sport of Americans. In the most recent poll, only 32% of Americans picked the professional football as their favorite sport. This figure is down 3% from last year and the NFL now has just a 16% lead over Major League Baseball.
It is time for the NFL to make a move that would increase popularity of the sport not only in the US, but around the World and what better way to increase popularity than to place a team in one of the World’s largest cities. London has all of the makings of a great NFL city. With a huge market, an increasing fan base, and potential to draw fans from all over Europe, there is plenty of reason to make the move in the next few years.
This blog post was written by Samford University student Henry Royse.