Since 2007, the NFL has held games each season at London’s Wembley Stadium, and there will be three this season (Raiders-Dolphins on Sept. 28, Falcons-Lions on Oct. 26 and Cowboys-Jaguars on Nov. 9). But if you ask Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank, as MMQB’s Peter King did, this is only the beginning.
The MMQB: Is it more likely there would be a franchise in London or that there would be six to eight games a season?
Blank: I think it will lead to [a team]. I think it will start with an increased number of games. That will be translated into a very successful series of games, and eventually, I think a franchise. And maybe more than one. London’s a big city … I think eventually having that many games says that we really are playing a season in London, so we probably ought to have a team here. I think it will be a natural progression to a team.
The MMQB: In how many years?
Blank: Less than you’d think. The success has been remarkable, and I don’t see any reason why it’s going to slow down.
But wait, you say: How can the NFL be thinking of putting a team (or teams!) in London when it doesn’t have a team in Los Angeles, which is only America’s most-populous U.S. city? Blank apparently thinks there will be a team (or teams!) there, too.
I think there will be one or more teams there in the future. Clearly, in terms of the media market, it’s not made a difference. We’ve had great success—all of our media partners are thrilled with the ratings, etc. But I think to not have one or more teams in L.A., over an extended period of time, on the surface it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. So I think that eventually there will be a team in L.A. It’s a matter of getting the stadium puzzle, getting the public/private partnership puzzle—getting all that worked through and worked out. I can’t see the NFL ignoring the city long-term.