To England! The NFL Returns to Wembley Stadium
Wembley Stadium is an English institution. It ranks as one of the largest stadiums in the world, and is home to the England national soccer team. Recently rebuilt, Wembley has 90,000 covered seats, and can hold over 130,000 for concerts. Wembley has showcased many major events and concerts throughout its prestigious history. This tradition continues this Sunday, when the San Diego Chargers meet the New Orleans Saints in front of English fans at Wembley Stadium.
There has only been one regular season NFL game in the UK, which was held last year and featured the New York Giants versus the Miami Dolphins. There were many concerns going into the first NFL game on English soil. Would English fans be able to warm up to American football? Would the pace be to slow for a crowd used to watching soccer? Would anyone show up? Well, as anyone who was there will tell you, it was a great success. The first block of 40,000 tickets for the game sold-out in just 90 minutes. The second and third blocks of tickets went just as fast, and it was clear getting people into the stadium would not be a problem.
Truckloads of merchandise were brought in and jerseys from every team were purchased by fans. Images of the crowd showed all NFL teams represented. “God Save the Queen”, the British national anthem was played before the game, as that is the tradition in England. English fans don’t just sing along, they belt it out at the top of their lungs, something you don’t normally see in the US. It is quite intense, and the roar of the crowd must get every player ready. By kick off, it was clear that these fans were ready for some (American) football. Even though the weather was a cold wet drizzle, they stuck in there, cheering whenever possible. Granted, not all the cheering was at the proper moments (all punts got huge ovations, regardless of circumstance), but the spirit of the NFL was alive and well in these English fans. Overall, it was a complete success, despite the fact that the rain had turned the field into a slippery mud bowl.
NFL commissioner Roger Goodel has publicly discussed the idea of possibly holding the Super Bowl at Wembley Stadium. There is also talk of extending the NFL season by one game, specifically for international play. This would be a treat for fans in Europe, as well as the die hards; who would make the trip across the pond, body paint and all. Given the state of things now, the travel industry would be more than willing to accommodate a few extra passengers.
Major cities that could potentially host games include: Amsterdam, Dusseldorf, Edinburgh Barcelona, Berlin, Frankfurt, London, Paris and Dublin just to name a few. Where in Europe would you like to see your favorite NFL team play?