NFL Attempts to Move Worldwide

One of the main goals of all major sports leagues in North America is to grow the sport worldwide. The National Hockey League, National Basketball Association and Major League Baseball already have teams in two different countries (United States and Canada). Each of these sports also receives worldwide attention in the Olympics every four years. But what about North Americas other big sport league, the National Football League?

Although the NFL has played games outside the United States, it is usually only once or twice a year. The first game outside the United States occurred in 2005 in Mexico City. In 2007, the NFL agreed to play one game a year at Wembley Stadium in London, England. Beginning in 2008, the Buffalo Bills also agreed to play one regular season game a year in Toronto, Ontario (, 2013). Despite these small attempts by the NFL to become more of a worldwide sport, the NFL has remained the most powerful sports league in the world. In 2012, the NFL generated $9.5 billion in revenue (Daniel Kaplan, 2013). For 2014, Roger Goodell and the NFL owners have agreed to start making the push toward creating a stronger worldwide brand. The NFL has agreed to schedule 3 regular season games in London, England in 2014. The Jacksonville Jaguars, Atlanta Falcons and the Oakland Raiders will each be playing one home game across the Atlantic Ocean.

Another item on the NFL agenda is the possibility of creating a permanent team that will play out of London, England. While an interesting idea, at what cost does this come to the NFL? Yes they can create a larger fan base around the world, but what about the lifelong fans and all the players that live in the United States? Unlike the other big three sports leagues in North America where losing 1 of 41 home games or 1 of 81 home games may not be that big of a deal to most fans, an NFL team only has 8 home games. Comparatively speaking, this is a far greater loss to season ticket holders of NFL teams. This move to London, England also impacts the cities, stadiums and employees in which these teams play and work. Local restaurants and hotels near the stadium of an NFL team stand to lose revenue because the team only has 7 home games instead of 8. The stadium will lose 12.5% of their yearly revenue and stadium employees will also suffer loses. Retired NFL player Jeff Saturday recently stated that no players in the NFL will want to live that far outside of the United States especially if it means moving their family there as well (, 2013). Despite the fact that the NFL has the opportunity to become a worldwide brand, the NFL must decide whether it will benefit or hinder the game that has become such a success in North America.


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4 Responses to NFL Attempts to Move Worldwide

  1. ed10je says:

    I had these same thoughts recently. It is a big loss for teams to have to use one of their home games in London or another foreign market, as home games are as critical in football as any sport worldwide. Although it appears it wouldn’t have made a difference with the Jacksonville game, for a team in the playoff hunt losing a potential home game could cost them a win and possibly a shot at the playoffs. Although I am in favour of expanding globally, the way in which it has been done in the NFL could be viewed as questionable, in my opinion.

  2. sroche19 says:

    Yeah i agree that this is a questionable call for the NFL. The travel and loss of home games is a bit concerning but i would say that a team in London would suffer the most. The travel schedule and the fact that there the only European team would not benefit them at all. I think the NHL had it right by testing the waters by playing a few games overseas but putting a permanent team in Europe would be tough in my opinion,. It will be interesting to see how the NFL plays this out.

  3. cm10hu says:

    I pretty much agree with the top comment, NFL teams should not lose a home-game advantage – especially in a league where I personally feel home-advantage is the most significant/most impacting on the game- during the regular season when games count. I agree expanding the NFL’s reach is a great idea particularly for the fan base overseas, but, I think it should only be in the form of pre-season games as the home-advantage isn’t that big of a deal, especially since starters play limited minutes.

  4. melilloanthony1 says:

    I believe the NFL is focusing to much on growing the game globally rather than continue to support local teams and cities. You made a good point discussing how a team losing one home game in football is different than one game in any other sport. The host team’s city looses thousands and potentially a few million dollars based on this one game. With cities suffering after the recession it would make the most sense for the NFL to continue focusing its efforts in the United States until there is a solid base and financial assistance for these cities. The effort to grow the game globally should be through exhibition games, I doubt many fans in Europe would feel a significant difference in the atmosphere.

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