Tottenham said to be considering NFL-ready stadium, according to legendarily unreliable newspaper

This was reported in the Daily Mail, the British tabloid that once won an award for “worst misrepresentation of a scientific article in a national newspaper,” so major grains of salt, but: The owners of the London-based Premier League team Tottenham Hotspur are reportedly looking into building a new 65,000-seat stadium that would be able to be converted to football, thus giving them the ability to play host to a London NFL franchise.

The Mail reports — citing “sources” — that “it is understood that plans being drawn up for the Premier League outfit may include a sliding pitch to protect the playing surface for when it is used for NFL matches.” Which is pretty handwavy even for unattributed stadium plans, but given that we’re talking about an NFL team that so far exists only in the mind of London NFL boosters, it’s probably about as should be expected.

In the meantime, let’s just enjoy this awesome rendering of now-scrapped earlier plans for a Tottenham stadium, just because a building with “NAMING RIGHTS” stenciled on the roof is the perfect image for our sports era.


21 comments on “Tottenham said to be considering NFL-ready stadium, according to legendarily unreliable newspaper

  1. “Wembley could not realistically bid to become the permanent home of an NFL team needign to play eight home games per season and use the stadium as a base from summer to January.”

    Again, consider the sources and all… but that’s a pretty telling quote, and one I’m sure their American counterparts in Bristol, CT will be keen to ignore.

  2. Source notwithstanding, there is some merit at least to the idea. Spuds’ current ground isn’t particularly large (~35,000), and they want a new stadium, having lost out on the Olympic stadium to West Ham in a decision they are probably still bitching about.

    Anyway, in England they just don’t build you a stadium because you really, really want one and you can tax visitors so other people will pay for it, etc. Tottenham is probably looking at Arsenal, who built their own stadium with their own money (novel, right… well, the money was borrowed, but it was borrowed by the club who are still paying back the bonds) and noticed what it did to their competitiveness over 5-6 seasons. Basically, Arsenal’s debt left them selling their best player for 4 or 5 years in a row. They went from winning titles and trophies to barely hanging on for the last Champions League spot (usually at the “expense” of Tottenham… (ha ha!)).

    So of course they want free money. And if sharing the place 8 weekends a year means getting a couple hundred million dollars to help offset the costs, then that seems like something worth considering.

    However, if Spurs continue to punch at their Europa League weight, that means more Thursday-Sunday scheduling (Europa League games are on Thursday nights, so league games usually move to Sunday to give teams rest between games). And they won’t be able to play an NFL and an EPL game at the same time.

    Also, I would think that if the NFL were going to start handing out money for a stadium, then the two NFL owners who own EPL teams (it is just Kahn and Kroenke, right?) would be toward the front of the line. Craven Cottage is tiny. Fulham would probably like a bigger ground, oh and look at that. They have the same owner as the same shitty Jacksonville team we kept sending over there. I have no idea if the Emirates could host football or if Arsenal would even want that.

  3. “…two NFL owners who own EPL teams (it is just Kahn and Kroenke, right?) …”

    And the guy who owns Tampa and some middling EPL squad ;)

  4. Lerner owns Aston Villa, but he his family no longer owns the Browns if I remember right?

    Unfortunately, this suggestion (NFL/Spurs stadium) involves more than a little bit of circular reasoning (or Reaganomics for those old enough to remember that):

    Spurs want a new stadium but don’t think they can pay for it on football revenues alone.

    So they groundshare with an NFL franchise.

    But the NFL team needs all the revenue streams from the stadium just as Spurs do. And NFL teams don’t put much/any money into their stadia…

    So having a second tenant doesn’t actually help, it hurts. But it sounds good, if you hold your jaw just so when you say it and hope no-one looks behind the math even a little…

    That said, I think you might be right about Khan, Michael. He is in perhaps the most unsustainable market in the NFL and also has a foothold in London. I could see a sharing arrangement where the Jags play 3 games a year in London and Jacksonville season ticketholders get fleeced “a bit less” for having only 7 games (2 preseason) to buy.

  5. Kei:

    Wembley could absolutely host the games. In fact, the stadium authority is carrying so much debt on the facility (which was budgeted at just under $1.5Bn but ended up costing more than twice that) that they need to cram every event they can into it (which is why the pitch is always so terrible… too many supercross and other events in there).

    No, the NFL club could not be based at the stadium (at least not as far as on field work), but most NFL clubs now have separate training facilities precisely so they don’t have to train at the stadium they play their games at anyway. Wembley would be no different. EPL clubs often have this arrangement too, but more to spare the pitch from extra stress than because the stadium is needed for other events.

    Bottom line is I don’t think you’ll see a team in London any time soon, and probably not one in LA either. The NFL cannot extort the kind of money there (London) that they can “here”, and they aren’t going unless they get UK tax dollars to do it… so I believe London is just another NFL straw man set up to scare existing host cities into believing they will lose their team (if not to London, then Boise, surely) if they don’t keep shovelling welfare the NFL’s way.

    We’ve all watched Blazing Saddles right? So we know what happens when the sheriff points the gun at his own head and says “Nobody move or… I’ll shoot (sic)”

  6. The NFL in London idea is extremely stupid. The people and government need to stop encouraging Goodell and Stern to bring American sports franchises to a city that barely cares about football and basketball. Really and truly. Tottenham should not build this stadium.

  7. The interesting suggestion I’ve read re: taxpayer funding is the desire that, if there is a London team, they have a “base” in the Northeast US to stay/train so they don’t have to go back to London on long US road trips.

    “SAY, [insert municipality], if you build a training centre, dorm, and facilities, we’ll put a preseason game in your local college stadium…”

  8. “That said, I think you might be right about Khan, Michael. He is in perhaps the most unsustainable market in the NFL…”

    Unless/until TV money changes drastically or they remove their salary cap, there’s no such thing as an “unsustainable market in the NFL”.

  9. John Bladen: “That said, I think you might be right about Khan, Michael. He is in perhaps the most unsustainable market in the NFL and also has a foothold in London. I could see a sharing arrangement where the Jags play 3 games a year in London and Jacksonville season ticketholders get fleeced ‘a bit less’ for having only 7 games (2 preseason) to buy.”

    1. There’s no such thing as an unsustainable NFL market, as Keith said. If the team was any good, then there wouldn’t even be any discussion about Jax being a viable location for an NFL team.

    2. The city of Jacksonville and the Jaguars organization recently reached a deal on a stadium reno, with the city picking up most of the tab. Given that, it’s difficult to believe that Jax would agree to let its team send even more games overseas.

    3. I can’t imagine any team wanting to play a preseason game in London. It’s the exact same arrangement as it would be for a regular season game, only it’s for a game that doesn’t even count. Also, do you have the players turning out again the following Sunday for another ostensibly meaningless game?

    4. This is just me being selfish, but if the Jags actually want to move another home game, regular or preseason, I’d rather they put it here in Orlando. At the very least, the NFL fans in town would hate them a little less if they actually played a game down here, as opposed to simply being shown on TV every other weekend.

  10. @ Roger C.

    Have you ever lived in London because I have and in my experience your claim that London ” barely cares about (NFL) football” is completely false.

  11. @ ty

    I’ve been to White Hart Lane and there’s no room for a sliding pitch like the NFL Cardinals use. Maybe if they just bulldoze the Tottenham cemetery.

  12. @John,

    I’ve been to London. They don’t care about the NFL.

    I really want to know how you found NFL fans there. Something makes me think you went out of your way to find an American football club, and then and there decided that if someone liked it there, the whole of the UK does.

    I know you’re one of those people that likes to think that anything is possible, but I hate to break it to you, this is a ridiculously stupid idea.

  13. John:

    I also lived in London (for 12 years) and I find the support for American football specious at best. If the clubs in rugby (which is the second-most popular sport in England, though arguably third in London behind cricket due to the non-white population) struggle to draw 10-15,000 per game for their 11 home premiership matches, I doubt that the NFL could draw the 60,000+ needed for each of 8 home fixtures.

    ….And, yes, I’m aware that the Sarries, Quins, Wasps, and Irish draw large crowds to Twickenham all of twice a year (‘The Big Game,’ etc.). The larger point is that British support for anything non-football (soccer) is resided to hyped-up “big” events, which the NFL wouldn’t be at 8 matches a year. The novelty for traveling Americans would also quickly fade, leaving a large portion of the 60,000+ needing to come from Londoners and ex-pats.

  14. Jacksonville isn’t unsustainable because the owner is losing money. It is unsustainable because he could be making more money somewhere else – and a lot more money.

    The team being “no good” is close to irrelevant to the financial side. Khan cannot earn much more local revenue than he does in that market because of the nature of the market (income levels, discretionary spending capacity, corporate support, city subsidy etc). His league related revenues will always form a larger percentage of total earnings than most (if not all) of his rivals because of that.

    Kei: I did not suggest that the preseason games would be in London (they won’t). The good fans of Jacksonville will be paying to attend (or possibly not to attend, depending on the details of the deal) those no matter where some regular season games go.

    As for “the deal” meaning no more games in another market, look no further than the Bills deal with Toronto. Buffalo is renovating Rich Stadium (as it once was), and the Bills will continue to play at least one game a year in Toronto. So yes, it can happen. The choice presented to whatever team the NFL wants to make “London’s team” won’t be “you can have 8 home games or 6”, it will be “6 games or none”.

  15. Roger C. said “Tottenham should not build this stadium”.

    From what I understand Roger, they have no intention of doing so at present. This is a story about something that someone might do someday under certain conditions. That is a lot of ifs… enough to fill several column inches – which is really the whole point of this (every) article from the Mail.

  16. John Bladen: “Jacksonville isn’t unsustainable because the owner is losing money. It is unsustainable because he could be making more money somewhere else – and a lot more money.”

    The problem with that logic is that it could easily apply to any market not named New York or Dallas. A team like Carolina, Tennessee, or Tampa Bay (let alone San Diego, St Louis, or Oakland) would also stand to make far more money in LA or London too, no?

    I find it nigh on impossible to imagine that any team would give up TWO home games per season, lest they start really turning off their fanbase. I don’t see how sending another game overseas does anything other than alienate the fanbase back home, especially when they’ve already sent one abroad, like Buffalo and Jacksonville have. Unless, you know, they’re intentionally pissing off their fans and letting their cats out of the bag, so to speak…

    I agree that we won’t see a team in London or LA any time soon; for all we know, Goodell might be running an elaborate scheme to push through another round of stadium deals, simply trotting those cities out as the bogeymen. But if that’s the case, wouldn’t those so-called “unsustainable” franchises basically be stuck where they are?

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