The NFL announced Wednesday that its teams will play a minimum of two games per year at Tottenham Hotspur’s new stadium in London, starting in 2018 and lasting for 10 years. The English Premier League club is in the process of designing a new home field to replace White Hart Lane, which is nearly 116 years old.
The new stadium, which is scheduled to open in 2018 and is estimated to cost around $615 million, will have a retractable grass field with an artificial surface underneath, which would be used for the American football games. It will seat 61,000 fans, according to the Telegraph.
“With growing enthusiasm for the NFL in the United Kingdom, we are committed to hosting NFL games in world-class venues and are excited to partner with Tottenham Hotspur to play games at their future stadium” NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said in a statement. “We share a vision and commitment to creating the best experience for our teams, fans and the local community.”
The NFL has staged 11 games at London’s Wembley Stadium since 2007 in a deal that runs through 2016. In its statement announcing the Tottenham deal, the league said it’s “optimistic” that it can extend its relationship with Wembley past 2016 and that NFL games could be played in the United Kingdom at venues other than Tottenham’s stadium when that deal begins in 2018.
Wembley will host three NFL games this season: Dolphins-Jets on Oct. 4, Jaguars-Bills on Oct. 25 and Chiefs-Lions on Nov. 1.
“Anyone who has seen American Football at Wembley Stadium cannot fail to have been thrilled by the spectacle, and the wise heads that run the NFL have clearly not missed the fact that Londoners are going absolutely gangbusters for Gridiron,” London Mayor Boris Johnson said in the statement.
The announcement furthered speculation that an NFL team could relocate to London sometime in the near future. Wembley Stadium is seen as a less-than-ideal permanent fit for an NFL teams for a number of reasons, including insufficient locker-room space and the scheduling needs of England’s national soccer team. According to the Telegraph, NFL-size locker rooms have been added to the design of Tottenham’s new stadium and the secondary artificial-turf field would remove any questions about damage to Spurs’ turf.
“The FA is also interested in making Wembley the London base for an NFL franchise but accommodating a season of eight matches without moving England out would be challenging. That also leaves the possibility of an NFL franchise splitting their games between Wembley and Tottenham’s new stadium,” the Telegraph writes.