Tottenham Hotspur Stadium makes its NFL debut

Image of Tottenham Hotspur Stadium courtesy of Jacqueline Weitz

The Tottenham Hotspur Stadium put on quite the show for its first two NFL games. The brand new stadium is the first of its kind in the UK: the football pitch retracts to reveal synthetic turf beneath for NFL games, allowing the field to avoid damage when going between different events.  The stadium also boasts NFL exclusive locker rooms and facilities designed for NFL media, as well as a sky bridge going from the roof to the stadium. 

For all of its fancy features, the stadium still has character. NFL games in London have drawn more than 80,000 people in past years at Wembley Stadium. The feeling is much more intimate at Tottenham Hotspur, where NFL fans numbered 60,463 at the first game. 

The two games were also more riveting than typical games in London, with many fans at the Oakland Raiders vs. Chicago Bears game rejoicing at being able to see a competitive game for once. 

The second game, Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. Carolina Panthers, while less close, was the second highest combined point total in NFL London history. Additionally, it was the first time in six years that the NFL free kick rule came into effect. The rule states that if a team makes a fair-catch on a punt, they can elect to do a free kick from the line of scrimmage, with the defense at least 10 yards away. Unfortunately, Panther’s kicker Joey Slye was unsuccessful in his attempt. No team in the NFL has had a successful free kick in 43 years.

The success of the Tottenham series and NFL’s first permanent facility in London has fans asking whether a London franchise is potentially viable.  Given the intensity of the NFL, it would be gruelling to ask a team to travel from London for half of its games each year. Perhaps the NFL London series will continue to expand for visiting teams.  

The next two NFL games will be at Wembley Stadium. The Los Angeles Rams will host the Cincinnati Bengals on October 27, then the Jacksonville Jaguars will host the Houston Texans on November 3.


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