Apparently it’s crazy unsourced rumor week in the sports press, because right after the Daily Mirror’s 75,000-seat David Beckham Miami soccer stadium report, Fox Sports jumped in with a claim that the NFL is seriously considering moving the Jacksonville Jaguars to London:
The NFL’s International Committee is involved in talks to bring a franchise, perhaps the Jacksonville Jaguars, to London, possibly as soon as 2017, sources told FOXSports.com…
FOXSports.com has learned that the Olympic Stadium is being configured to work for different seating capacities for futbol and football. The retractable seating will enable greater attendance for soccer matches, while football will be significantly less.
So “sources” say there are “talks,” huh? Given that the whole purpose of the NFL International Committee is to have talks about such things, this is hardly surprising. But Is there any sign that these talks are actually close to putting a team (“perhaps the Jaguars”) in Wembley Stadium? (Scroll, scroll.) Nope.
Look, I’ve been one of the first to say that because of the NFL’s unique financial structure — every team in the league is rich from day one thanks to the national TV revenues that are shared among all 32 owners — you could put a team in Kuala Lumpur or on the moon and, so long as you had a lucrative enough stadium lease, make lots of money. And surely the NFL knows that a team in London would help get more lucrative American football TV contracts in the UK, which would help make those rich owners even richer.
But even for a sport that plays once a week, lugging two teams across the ocean, to a time zone offset by five hours from the U.S. east coast and eight hours from California, is hardly a trivial matter. And that “teams can play anywhere” cuts both ways: If you could get them to build a stadium, a team owner could just as easily put an NFL team in the other London and make money on the deal — it might not help the league’s international marketing as much, but that’s not an individual owner’s concern.
Getting the UK’s interest in American football up by alluding to them maybe getting a team, though, that’s the kind of thing that’s right up the NFL’s alley. And it certainly can’t hurt to have U.S. cities fearing that their team will leave for London if they’re unhappy at home. Enough talk like this, and maybe the league won’t need Los Angeles to kick around anymore.