Is the NFL Ready for an American Super Bowl in London?
The Super Bowl may be the most “American” finale of any sporting venture, usurping the World Series simply on the grounds that, unlike baseball, American football is enjoyed and played almost exclusively on this continent, but with the NFL’s continued advances into London, how much longer will we be able to equate the biggest stage in the game with, dare we say, ‘Murica? And would anyone really notice if it was held in England, anyway?
We’ve written about the NFL’s dalliances overseas in the past, but there’s now news (courtesy of ESPN) that there is a discussion being had over the feasibility of a U.K. Super Bowl — according to the report, it’s likely to net around $300 million but could cause “a negative reaction from the United States.” There are also concerns about the time difference, since the optimal broadcast times (4 p.m. Eastern or 6 p.m. GMT) both offer significant logistical problems. But, as noted, if the league is serious about moving an NFL team to London, this is a minor hurdle that can be extrapolated out to illustrate what might happen over the course of an entire season.
As for outrage? That seems a little farfetched, even accounting for the staggering lack of tact routinely displayed by some of the teams and fans involved with football as a whole. Even assuming that people could buy tickets to the Super Bowl, which is notoriously difficult to do, how many fans would be displaced if the game was held across the Atlantic? The key to the enduring popularity of the game has always been in the broadcast — the vaunted Super Bowl ads, the halftime shows — and that’s unlikely to change if the venue is Wembley instead of the University of Phoenix Stadium.
No, the outrage and ire that might stem from a move like this would almost certainly be the result of some creative rabble-rousing and tightening of the perimeter by people trying to play on the underlying vibe that the NFL as an entity gives off — while he won’t be president if and when this happens, it’s easy to imagine a world where Obama would be blamed for “taking away our football” or some such idea — rather than any real opposition to the move. Football, after all, is awesome. Doesn’t that mean we’d want to evangelize abroad with events like the Super Bowl?
The earliest year that the event could be held overseas, by the way, is in 2019. That’s the first open year on the docket: between now and then it will be held in Arizona, California (Levi’s Stadium), Texas, and Minnesota. While there has been some variation in how location affects ticket and housing prices, the event is always expected to make money, a situation helped by the fact that the NFL has an extensive list of demands that it places on prospective host cities.