sports gazette

SI's Peter King on a Possible London NFL Franchise

Published: 13 Apr 2017

The narrative of London’s growth towards an NFL franchise of its own is not going away.

Though away from the romanticism, more and more people are beginning to look specifically at logistics.

This includes many of America’s top sports writers.

At an NFL UK event in Nottingham, Peter King spoke about its growing likelihood.

He said: “Most NFL owners I have spoken to are in favour of it.

“And when most of the owners want something to happen, they generally get their way.”

King, who has covered the game for 33 years and now writes a regular column for Sports Illustrated, even went into detail about which teams he thought might relocate.

Talking to fans after the event he said he thought the Jacksonville Jaguars are the prime candidate.

The Jaguars, who currently have an agreement to play one game a year in London through 2020, are the obvious choice.

No team in the league has lost more games over the past five years and the empty seats at EverBank Field reflect that.

This, combined with owner Shahid Khan’s British sporting interests, puts them in pole position.

However, King stressed the Jaguars aren’t the only option.

He said: “You have to look at Buffalo as well.

“If they can’t get a new stadium built then they could definitely look towards London.”

The Buffalo Bills aren’t a commonly discussed team, though the reasoning makes sense.

In the past two years, three NFL teams have committed to relocating.

The St Louis Rams and San Diego Chargers moved to LA, and recently the Oakland Raiders filed for relocation to Las Vegas.

All these moves occurred primarily because the owners could not get a new stadium built in the original cities.

Looking at Buffalo, the recently renamed New Era Field is one of the oldest venues currently in use in the NFL, first opening in 1973.

There are older stadia, but the likes of Soldier Field in Chicago or Lambeau Field in Green Bay have undergone frequent renovations to keep with the times.

Unfortunately for Bills fans, a new name was the last thing their stadium needed, and within the next five to ten years there will be serious conversations about a new site.

Team owners Terrance and Kim Pegula, who bought the Bills for $1.4 billion in 2014, have expressed a commitment to the Western New York area.

However, it will surely not have escaped their notice that a state of the art, NFL ready, stadium is currently being built in North London.

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