Two footballs, one city
Today, the NFL announced the next series of games to be played at Wembley Stadium in London, and one lispy Englishman was rather displeased.
Roy Hodgson, the manager of the England national soccer team, has criticized the scheduling of the matches, as one game falls five days before a European Championship qualifier.
“The pitch, unfortunately, is not in the best of nick anyway, which we’re all a bit unhappy with,” Hodgson told the BBC.
I’m inclined to agree with Roy, seeing as Wembley is barely used throughout the year, and now they’ve got two completely different sports being played there in one week.
What I don’t understand is why the NFL is so focused on Wembley. Their current exclusive deal for hosting NFL games in the UK with the Football Association, the governing body of soccer in England, and the owner of Wembley Stadium, runs out in 2017.
Hopefully they’ll diversify their game locations after the deal runs out to some of London’s other generally dormant stadiums (stadia?).
Twickenham Stadium, which has nearly the same capacity and field size as Wembley, is just as difficult to get to. It’s home to the England rugby team and will be the venue for the final (and other games) of the 2015 Rugby World Cup. After that, it will be pretty much empty. Why not make use of the home of the sport that American Football evolved out of?
Then there’s the Olympic Stadium, which has hosted next to nothing since the closing ceremony of the Paralympic Games in 2012. It’s been mired in legal squabbles by local soccer teams and developers as to who should take it over. Unless a deal falls apart again, it looks like West Ham United will become tenants in 2016.
If the Jets and the Giants can figure out how to share the Meadowlands, I’m pretty sure the city of London can figure out how to get three NFL games to fit in with the Premier League, international soccer matches and rugby matches that take place in London.
Then there’s also the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff, Old Trafford in Manchester, Murrayfield Stadium in Edinburgh, all of which seat over 65,000 people.
Take a look at all of them:
I’m not sure whether it’s more likely that an NFL team will be moving full-time to London or whether Roy will still be employed by the FA by the time a move would be completed, but they’re going to have to figure out something that works for the roughly 1 billion soccer viewers and the 100 million football fans out there.