The NFL announced early this morning that it has reached an agreement with the Tottenham Hotspur of the English Premier League to play games at the team’s new stadium beginning in 2018. The NFL will play at least two games per year in Tottenham’s new stadium over a 10-year span from 2018 to 2027.
The agreement is a logical extension of the existing partnership between the NFL and Wembley Stadium. The new Tottenham venue, scheduled to open in the summer of 2018, will feature a retractable grass field with an artificial surface underneath that would be used for NFL games. That artificial surface would alleviate many of the concerns the league has expressed in the past about playing NFL games on a field designed for soccer.
Despite announcing this new arrangement in Tottenham, the NFL says it is “optimistic” that its relationship with Wembley Stadium will be extended beyond 2016, when it’s set to expire. According to the press release from the league, in addition to at least two games per year at the Tottenham stadium, other NFL games may take place at different venues in the UK between 2018 and 2027.
Although the NFL’s announcement doesn’t mention the possibility of the league relocating an entire franchise to the UK, or starting an expansion team there, the details of the Tottenham facility suggest that the idea could gain momentum down the road. Both soccer and American football will have “dedicated facilities” at the new stadium, and the retractable grass field would make it more palatable to play eight NFL games per year at the venue.