The NFL London games have been a huge success. Last year saw the record attendance for an NFL game in London, as 86,215 fans packed into Wembley Stadium to watch the Jacksonville Jaguars play host to the Denver Broncos. I say ‘play host’ because the Jacksonville Jaguars have become the unofficial London team – which we will look into further later.
It’s been a meteoric rise for the NFL in this country. 20 years or so ago the prospect of the NFL London games would have been unheard of – there simply wasn’t the demand for it. So how have these matches become so popular that they sell out within minutes of going on sale, with online queues of around 200,000 people?
In this article, we are going to be taking a quick look at the history of the NFL London games, before explaining what you could expect to experience at a game, as well as the various tickets and hospitality packages that are available.
A Brief History of the NFL London Games
The year is 2005, and the NFL has a problem. The sport has pretty much saturated its popularity in the USA, and due to the nature of the sport and the recovery needed after a game, extending the season wasn’t an option. In order to generate more money for the game, they needed more fans. They needed to take American Football out of America.
There had been tentative attempts to stoke up international interest in the NFL in the past. Matches called American Bowls, which were basically preseason friendly matches between 1986-2005, had been played abroad but they had limited success. So the NFL tried something new, with a regular season match – the first international game played was at Estadio Azteca in Mexico City, between the Arizona Cardinals and the San Francisco 49ers. Over 100,000 fans turned up – the outside world had its first proper taste of NFL action, and it liked it.
Thus, the NFL International Series was born. In 2007, the first international game was played at Wembley Stadium, where the New York Giants beat the Miami Dolphins – with the first 40,000 tickets selling within 90 minutes of going on sale. One game a year was played at Wembley Stadium until 2012, when an extra game was added – the first time Jacksonville Jaguars played in the UK. They are owned by Shahid Khan, the same man who owns Fulham FC, and so have a close connection to London. The Jags have played over here every year since (except the pandemic-hit 2020 season), and will continue to until at least 2024.
In 2016, Twickenham Stadium hosted a match, and in 2019, the brand new Tottenham Hotspur Stadium joined the roster of UK venues. Three games a year were now scheduled for the UK. The Tottenham Hotspur Stadium had agreed a deal to host at least two games a year for 10 years – this was no flash in the pan.
Meanwhile, Mexico has hosted five games since 2016, all in the Estadio Azteca, and all attracting over 75,000 NFL fans.
In 2022, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers hosted the Seattle Seahawks at the Allianz Arena in Munich, with two more fixtures scheduled to take place there in 2023. The Kansas City Chiefs and the New England Patriots will host one each there.
The NFL International Series has been a huge hit for the game. In a further effort to expand the sport’s popularity, each team has been designated a country in which they market themselves. The NFL will continue to grow all over the world and who knows how big they can get.
Who will be playing in the NFL London games in 2023?
While the fixtures for the NFL in London for the 2023 season haven’t been announced yet, we do know which teams will be hosting the London games. Obviously, the Jacksonville Jaguars will be at Wembley Stadium, while the Buffalo Bills and the Tennessee Titans will head to the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.
Meanwhile the Chiefs and the Patriots will play a game each in Germany, with their opponents to be decided. There will be no game in Mexico this year due to the ongoing renovation work at the Estadio Azteca.
There are three games in London this season, the first at Wembley and the following two at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. There are then two games in Frankfurt – the first time they have hosted NFL games – with the Miami Dolphins v Kansas City Chiefs a truly mouthwatering prospect. The fixtures are:
What’s it like at the NFL London Games?
The fun for the NFL London games always starts in the week leading up to the match. A whole host of events take place around London in the build up.
Last year there was the Super Bowl exhibition space on London’s South Bank. This featured cheerleader performances from the visiting NFL teams, the chance to meet former players and the opportunity to take part in NFL training activities. The Vince Lombardi trophy was on display, as well as Super Bowl rings and plenty more. These are great events for the whole family.
On game day, though, things step up a notch. American Football is about much more than the match itself – it is a spectacle for the whole day. Let’s start with the tailgate party.
In America, this is where the fans turn up into the car parks of the stadiums, open up their boots and eat and drink with other fans. There are BBQs, kegs, picnics – it’s just one big party. Of course, their stadiums tend to be out of town, with plenty of space. In this country, you rarely get a stadium with ample parking. But that doesn’t mean we can’t tailgate…
The NFL London version of tailgating is basically to have a load of food and drinks stalls set up outside the ground, loads of activities, some live music, some special guests and a fantastic carnival atmosphere. Wembley has the Boxpark to add extra space, but the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium gets around their lack of room by closing down the roads nearby.
When you finally make your way into the stadium and to your seats, the same buzz and excitement that you felt outside follows you in. While you don’t need to be an NFL expert to enjoy the game, you’ll find yourself getting caught up in the game as the teams go head to head, even if it is your first ever trip to watch the NFL. The hits are hard, the sprints are quick and the catches often defy belief.
You’ll find fans of all NFL teams in the stadium – it isn’t segregated and people just like to come and watch an NFL match, whoever is playing. You’ll get New Orleans Saints fans sat next to New York Giants fans sat next to Minnesota Vikings fans – all there to watch the Jacksonville Jaguars play the Green Bay Packers. And that doesn’t take anything away from the enjoyment at all – it just adds to the party atmosphere.
There’s plenty of music, food and drink to enjoy during the match, and the four quarters will fly by. It’s a great way to spend a Sunday afternoon.
Hospitality Packages for NFL London
As we mentioned, getting tickets for an NFL London fixture can be difficult. The games will all sell out, so you have to hope that you’re lucky on the day they are released.
If you aren’t however, there are other options. Hospitality packages and VIP tickets can be purchased at any time once the fixtures are announced, for whichever stadium you want to attend. It’s a great way to ensure your seat at the match, as well as enjoying a more luxurious experience. Here are just a few of the options for you to consider:
The Spurs stadium was built with hospitality in mind – it is a stunning venue with world-leading facilities.
Eat an exceptional three-course meal in this bustling restaurant, before taking your mid-tier seats near the 50-yard line. Half time and full time snacks, as well as inclusive beer, wine and soft drinks, with prosecco on arrival.
The H Club
These exclusive VIP tickets will grant you prime seats on the 50 yard line, snacks at half time and full time, inclusive beer, wine and soft drinks and Champagne on arrival. The main event, though, is a stunning three-course meal in The H Club.
Where better to watch an event than our national stadium? Wembley is a modern venue, with plenty of hospitality options, including some tailored to the NFL games:
Take in some exclusive NFL entertainment, with live music, before sitting down to a private table to enjoy some street food as well as the fully inclusive drinks before kick off. You’ll get premium seats on the 50-yard line, as well as post-game savouries and a souvenir programme.
NFL London is becoming one of the major sporting events in the UK. American football has never been so popular, and we are lucky to be able to see the best teams in the world play over here.
Don’t miss out this year. If you are interested in purchasing premium tickets for one of the NFL London games, get in touch with us today and we can help find the right packages for you and your guests.