Designed with an emphasis on the NFL, the new Tottenham Hotspur Stadium is drawing plenty of hype–and questions of whether it could be home to a London franchise.
The new Tottenham Hotspur Stadium will be home to Tottenham Hotspur F.C. in the Premier League, but has been designed with the NFL in mind. Among its key features is a retractable playing surface offering a soccer pitch and a football field, along with separate NFL facilities, and club spaces that should provide a good experience for football and soccer alike.
The stadium was scheduled to host its first NFL game earlier this month, but construction delays prevented that from happening. Now, the stadium is likely to open in the coming months and host its first NFL game in 2019. Part of the NFL’s agreement concerning the new stadium requires a minimum of two regular-season games there annually for 10 years, but some believe that it could ultimately play a larger role for the league. When asked about it recently, the London-born former NFL star Osi Umenyiora said that he believed the stadium is now the most likely home of a London NFL franchise. More from the Evening Standard:
However, the club already have a deal with the NFL to host at least two games per season for ten years and when asked whether Tottenham was now the most likely home for a London franchise, two-time Super Bowl champion Umenyiora said: “Yes, absolutely.
“I think [Tottenham] know exactly what’s going to happen here as far as the NFL is concerned,” Umenyiora told Standard Sport. “The NFL has invested a huge sum of money in this market, to expand into this market, and if you know anything about the NFL, you know that they’re not in to wasting money.
“So the fact that they did that, lets you know what their plans are and Tottenham are on board with those plans.”
Although Jacksonville Jaguars owner Shad Khan maintained that a move of his team to London was not in the cards, the speculation surrounding his recent attempt to purchase Wembley Stadium showed that there is some desire in London for a NFL team of its own (Khan announced last week that he has withdrawn the offer). There are still plenty of hurdles for a full-time NFL franchise in London, as logistics, travel, and numerous other factors will have to go into consideration.
That said, the new Tottenham Stadium should be a boost for the NFL in London. Even without the presence of a full-time franchise, the new Tottenham Stadium’s design and use as a venue for multiple regular-season games reflects the league’s efforts to grow its presence in the city.