Sports | October 30, 2022 5:51 pm

The NFL’s Latest London Game Has Encouraging News for Expansion Watchers

The game set a ticket sales record

London football fans
Russell Wilson of the Denver Broncos walks off the field after the fourth quarter of Denvers 21-17 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars at Wembley Stadium in London on Sunday, October 30, 2022.
AAron Ontiveroz/MediaNews Group/The Denver Post via Getty Images

There was a point not long ago that the NFL’s commitment to playing several games per season in London looked like it might have been a gamble. When I visited Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in the spring of 2019, the wall of (American) football merchandise — including gear from every NFL team — seemed like a bold choice. More and more, though, it seems like a good investment.

The latest evidence for this comes from another London facility — namely, Wembley Stadium. The Jacksonville Jaguars — who share an owner with the London-based Premier League club Fulham — lost a close one to the Denver Broncos.

While the Jaguars weren’t triumphant on the field, they did substantially better from a business perspective. That, at least, is one of the big takeaways from an ESPN report on the game. As ESPN’s Michael DiRocco points out, this is the first game in a three-year agreement that will see the Jaguars play a Wembley game for each of the next three seasons.

The article goes on to cite a report from the Jaguars to the effect that they sold had 86,000 tickets for the game — making it, in DiRocco’s words, “the most-attended NFL matchup in the London international series that began in 2007.”

That’s more than the Jaguars bring in from their home games, on average, in Florida — and, according to the article, the Jaguars keep all ticket revenue from the game.

As proofs of concept go, this certainly seems like further evidence that there’s a demand for the NFL in London. Whether that would look like a single London-based franchise or — as Roger Goodell has suggested — an entirely new division remains to be seen. But the odds certainly seem to favor something larger than what’s in place now.