From Oakland to Tottenham? NFL’s Raiders reportedly could play in London in 2019
Over the centuries, Britain has survived invaders such as the Romans, Vikings, Saxons and Normans. But is the U.K. ready for Raider Nation?
The London-based tabloid The Daily Mail reported Sunday that the NFL’s Oakland Raiders are in talks to play their home games at the Tottenham Hotspurs’ new soccer stadium in 2019. According to the report, the Raiders would play eight home games at north London’s Tottenham Stadium, which will feature artificial turf for American football beneath a retractable grass pitch for Premier League football.
The 62,000-seat stadium is behind schedule, and set to open in early 2019. The Raiders were supposed to play a game there in October against the Seattle Seahawks, but construction delays forced the game to be moved to London’s Wembley Stadium.
Last week, Fox Sports’ Jay Glazer reported the Raiders and the NFL were discussing the possibility of playing in London next season, and that league owners had been supportive of such a move.
The Raiders, known for their die-hard fans and outlaw style, are homeless next season. Their new stadium in Las Vegas won’t open until 2020, and the team rescinded its rental deal at its longtime home, the Oakland Coliseum, after the City of Oakland sued the Raiders and the NFL for antitrust over the team’s move to Las Vegas.
Options closer to home include playing a year at the San Francisco Giants’ AT&T Park, or sharing the San Francisco 49ers’ Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell reportedly wants a decision by February so the NFL can schedule accordingly.
While the NFL has long played games in London as a way to expand its worldwide fanbase, it’s unclear how having a team based there would work logistically. The Daily Mail report said the team could play sets of four home games in a row, followed by four away games back in the U.S. The NFL Players Union may have to weigh in on the issue as well.
Playoffs could be a concern, if teams had to fly to London on short notice, but after finishing this season 4-12, the playoffs are unlikely to be a factor for the Raiders next season.
The NFL is already scheduled to play four games on London in 2019.
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