Looks like that Tottenham Hotspur retractable field — which would apparently actually be a retractable grass pitch over permanent fake turf, something that’s hard to picture, especially since there’s no obvious place for it to retract to, but anyway — has done the trick, as the Premier League club announced a deal yesterday to host two NFL games per year at its new London stadium, once it opens in 2018.
In exchange, Tottenham will get … hang on, there’s got to be something in the long NFL.com statement that says what the NFL will be paying in rent or revenue sharing … nope, apparently not. But the NFL will provide Tottenham with something, in addition to the warm glow of hosting the kind of football that people in the UK don’t actually care about. (As my Vice collleague Aaron Gordon discovered last year, the Super Bowl got beat in the British TV ratings by both The Simpsons and a competitive tourism reality show called “Coach Trip.”)
Without L.A. in play, NFL team owners would need to find a new bogeyman. Enter London. If the league plays its cards right, it can spend the next two decades dangling London as a threat to silence any U.S. stadium naysayers — while still using the distant promise of a team to plump up British interest in the NFL, in a kind of “watch us and we will come” strategy aimed at the 64 million bereft souls who have never known the joy of buying a $10 foam finger.
The rest of the essay explains why I don’t think London is an alluring target for NFL owners, and includes all the digs at American football culture and links to comedy routines that you’ve come to expect from posts here, only I actually get paid for it. So go read it already!
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.