The National Football League is adding at least one more London game to the mix beginning in 2016, as the league agrees to a deal to play annually at Twickenham Stadium, home to the English rugby team.
The NFL already had a team to stage two games annually at Wembley Stadium through 2020, while also agreeing to stage two games annually at the new Tottenham soccer stadium when it opens in 2018. The addition of the Twickenham Stadium games under the terms of the Rugby Football Union (RFU) deal means there will be at least four NFL games in London beginning in 2018.
Twickenham Stadium is an interesting choice for NFL football. The first rugby match at the Twickenham Stadium site took place in 1909, as Harlequins and Richmond took over the former cabbage patch. The stadium now seats 82,000 and is home to plenty of other events, including high-profile concerts, in addition to English rugby.
The NFL has been a big success in London, with games averaging more than 80,000 fans per game. It’s been a better tool for expanding the sport internationally than NFL Europe.
“We are committed to continuing to grow our sport in the UK and believe that adding Twickenham Stadium to our roster of host venues in London is further evidence of that commitment,” Mark Waller, NFL executive vice-president of international, said in a statement. “We are very excited to give our fans the opportunity to enjoy NFL action at another world-class venue famous for attracting loyal and passionate fans from across the globe.”
Sophie Goldschmidt, RFU chief commercial and marketing officer, added: “We are delighted to welcome the NFL to Twickenham, a stadium that has played such an integral role in what has been the biggest Rugby World Cup ever. The NFL has a strong and growing fan base in the UK and this, combined with the investments we’ve made in our stadium, will give fans more opportunities to experience the action first-hand at a world-class venue.”
Image courtesy Twickenham Stadium.