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 (nfl.com, 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 (ESPN.com, 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.