London gears up for 1st of 2 NFL matchups
Christopher Lee/Getty Images LONDON (AP) — The famous arch rising above Wembley Stadium is becoming an increasingly familiar sight for NFL fans. The London venue has become the trusted vehicle for the league’s annual efforts to drum up more overseas interest. Heading into the first of two regular-season games at Wembley this year, it’s clear that stadium officials want to see a lot more of the NFL as well. With the league expanding its annual international series from one game to two this year, the usual questions arise whether one day the league will expand to London. And while the league says any such decision is several years away, Wembley officials say they’ll be ready if the day comes. Squeezing in a full slate of home games on Sundays shouldn’t interfere with the stadium’s commitments to host England’s national team soccer fixtures and other events, Wembley’s managing director Roger Maslin said Monday. “Absolutely we can,” Maslin said in an executive box overlooking the Wembley pitch. “I am absolutely confident if (NFL Commissioner) Roger Goodell wanted to have a franchise here we could absolutely deliver on it.” Known for being England’s national football stadium – the other football, played with a round ball – Wembley started staging regular-season NFL games in 2007. On Sunday, the Minnesota Vikings play the Pittsburgh Steelers , before the Jacksonville Jaguars face the San Francisco 49ers on Oct. 27. It is the first of four games over four seasons in London for the Jaguars, raising the prospect of the Florida team one day uprooting to London, where owner Shad Khan bought Premier League club Fulham in July. The two 2013 games sold out within hours, which Maslin said is a sign of the rising popularity of the NFL in Britain. Sunday’s game matches a pair of 0-3 clubs. The “core fan base” in the U.K.
Players not sold on London franchise
The site, about 1.5 miles from Mayfair, will give the developer an annual yield of 6.2 percent when fully leased, Chief Executive Officer Chris Grigg said on an investor call in July. That compares with a 3.5 percent yield for offices in prime West End areas, broker Savills Plc (SVS) said last month. Yields for the best U.K. property nationwide fell to 5.66 percent on average in August, the lowest in more than five years, Cushman & Wakefield said in a report yesterday. Larger Floors Its those larger floor-prints which really make a difference, Grigg said in a July 24 interview. British Land, the U.K.s second-largest REIT, also owns Regents Place, a development less than a mile from Oxford Street, where rents are more than 60 pounds a square foot, Grigg said. Thats an increase of more than 20 percent in less than two years. Developers betting on the expanded West End will face mounting competition from new projects in the City of London, many offering cheaper rents and targeting the same technology, media and telecommunications companies. Amazon.com Inc. chose to locate south of Farringdon, on the Citys western edge, where rents are about 48 pounds a square foot. Farther east is Londons emerging technology hub nicknamed Silicon Roundabout on Old Street. Derwent London Plc (DLN) , a REIT focused on central London, is tailoring a 290,000-square-foot office complex to tech firms with construction set to begin next year.
First stop: an NFL-sponsored “Play60” event outside Wembley Stadium. (Photo: Tom Pelissero, USA TODAY Sports) Story Highlights Chris Parsons, NFL’s senior VP of international, believes Steelers-Vikings will be ‘a great show’ As of now, four teams scheduled to play in London this season are a combined 1-11 SHARE 16 CONNECT 24 TWEET COMMENTEMAILMORE LONDON The NFL is sending two winless teams to Wembley Stadium on Sunday for the first of its two international series games this season, when the Minnesota Vikings face the Pittsburgh Steelers. Chris Parsons, the NFL’s senior vice president of international, doesn’t see that as a problem. VIKINGS COACH: Blunt message to Ponder “We’ve never had a game as early as Week 4 before, and that both teams are coming in with that record makes the game even more critical,” Parsons told USA TODAY Sports on Tuesday night. “What a huge game it’s going to be on Sunday for both teams.” “Sometimes, late in the season, teams have sustained their losing record and attitude and therefore have less appeal. But when you’re 0-3, you’ve still got a chance, and whoever wins this game is going to be very much alive.” This wasn’t how either team intended to make their trip abroad, of course. It’s a particularly challenging situation for the Vikings, who began the 4,000-mile flight Monday night and went straight to a community event Tuesday as part of their “home” team responsibilities. JAGUARS : Is 0-16 inevitable? “It puts you on your heels a little bit in a lot of ways with this travel and the schedule, and the locker room’s going to be in the hotel or whatever. It’s kind of out there,” Vikings linebacker Chad Greenway told USA TODAY Sports. But in a counterintuitive way, it sort of makes sense that this could be a great way for us to step away and play some good football this week and see what happens.” This is just a slightly longer road trip for the Steelers, who plan to practice at their facility Wednesday and Thursday before flying here Friday morning. The Vikings, on the other hand, were outside Wembley Stadium for Tuesday’s “Play60” event, with roughly 200 British children running through American football drills and peppering players with questions. PHOTOS: The NFL goes international The NFL has returned to London with the Vikings and Steelers set to meet at Wembley Stadium on Sept.
NFL exec: London getting ‘huge game’ of winless teams
I’d be up for the challenge … if they paid me.” Johnson has a six-year, $72 million deal with the Panthers. “More than I get paid here. You know what I’m saying?” Panthers wide receiver Steve Smith : “Oh, no. The relocation that is required and the travel and all that stuff, you’re constantly on the road. The time change is brutal for the physical work we do. If it was a complete league out there, that’s a different animal. But to live in London and travel to the United States to play, whomever that team is, they’re at a disadvantage every time they hop on a plane. You’re basically six-and-a-half hours behind. You have to get acclimated, which requires not like a West Coast to East Coast or East Coast to West Coast, where it’s a day and a half and you can fudge it. You can’t fudge that. It’s a different element. “If that happens, it’s a clear vision that they don’t really care about the players’ safety. They care about their pockets.
The Steelers arrive Friday. Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said Tuesday that his team will leave for London after practice Thursday and arrive Friday morning. Tomlin said the Steelers are leaving later in the week because he wanted to maintain as much normalcy as possible leading up to playing a game across the Atlantic Ocean. “I think traveling on Thursday night and getting there on Friday morning will provide us enough opportunity to adjust to the time difference. A lot of West Coast teams that travel to the East Coast do two-day travels, and that’s appropriate. I value normalcy in the early portions of the week from a preparation standpoint and from a practice standpoint.” Tomlin said that he considers the game in London as “purely a business trip.” “This is just a road game for us,” he said. “We’re happy to represent the National Football League in international play, but in terms of our level of focus and the things we need to do in preparation and in play, it’s just a road game for us.” All eyes will be on Peterson and Roethlisberger as they look to lead their clubs to victory with their seasons teetering on the brink. Minnesota slipped to a 31-27 loss to the Cleveland Browns on Sunday, and the Steelers fell 40-23 to the Chicago Bears . “These are two teams that the U.K. crowd have not seen before and you have star power with the Vikings in Adrian Peterson and, with the Steelers, you have one of the most successful franchises in NFL history,” NFL UK managing director Alistair Kirkwood said. “What you want is a very competitive game and you know you are going to get it with both teams going after a must-win.” The New England Patriots , New Orleans Saints and Denver Broncos are among the teams that have played in London since the International Series was launched. The New York Giants ‘ victory over the Miami Dolphins in the inaugural 2007 game helped to turn their season around en route to winning the Super Bowl. Roethlisberger and left guard Ramon Foster traveled to London during the offseason to promote the game against the Vikings. Punter Zoltan Mesko played there last season when the Patriots beat the St.