(from the Sports Business Journal, November 1, 2012) In the world of sports there are some organizations that reign supreme. In the United States sports are a way of life for most and the NFL especially holds a place as a sacred Sunday tradition. What about the rest of the world? Where else does the NFL go now that they have the prestige established in the United States? The answer to that question is London.
During the regular season games last weekend discussions began with London Mayor Boris Johnson’s office about the possibility of “becoming the anchor tenant of the Olympic Stadium.” A spokesperson for the mayor said, “Given the ever-growing popularity of gridiron this side of the Atlantic the mayor and his team have held a number of meetings with senior executives in the last few days to explore further opportunities for NFL in London. The talks were exploratory, and we are at an early stage, but the signs are encouraging.” By having the NFL occupy the left overs of the London Olympics could help avoid the potential complications which accompany state aid of West Ham’s bid. The European Commission has presented this matter needed further review to the British Government in a letter to all members states about state aid to professional football. The LLDC is “confident that all contributions for West Ham would not be classified as state aid.” West Ham is also looking to take over the tenancy for the Olympic Stadium but the Treasury’s refusal to hand over £337M Olympic-contingency under spent to help install retractable seating is “hampering” its bid. West Ham is offering to spend £8M a year for rent and a multimillion lump sum.
For the NFL a move to the Olympic stadium can mean a lot of things. A greater fan base, just to begin, and if this prestigious organization can expand its horizons it may be able to increase the love of the game in countries that haven’t developed Sunday traditions just yet.