Tottenham Hotspur have reached a new agreement with the National Football League that will see American football matches played in north London. The ten-year agreement will see Tottenham hosting at least two NFL American football matches in its new stadium when it opens in the summer of 2018. The announcement was made by Spurs via Twitter and on its official website and was confirmed by the NFL.
The Club & the @NFL have reached agreement for a minimum of two games per year to be played during a 10-year partnership at our new stadium.— Tottenham Hotspur (@SpursOfficial) July 8, 2015
.@NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. "We share a vision & commitment to creating the best experience for our teams, fans & local community."— Tottenham Hotspur (@SpursOfficial) July 8, 2015
There have been murmurs and rumors of this news for a while now, ever since stadium details emerged on a public-access Haringey Borough website. Pictorial depictions of one level of the stadium showed a large locker room big enough to house a NFL team with support staff, lending credence to the idea that Spurs' new home would not be a soccer-specific stadium but could be used for multiple sports and activities
The NFL has been playing gridiron football matches in London for years, but have been keen to expand their presence in England's capital, as the market for American football has grown by leaps and bounds. The agreement with Tottenham Hotspur is, at this point, one to host football matches between already existing NFL franchises, but the league has been talking about eventually expanding the league to include a London-based franchise. The agreement with Tottenham to play NFL games in North London is not exclusive; games could still be played at Wembley Stadium or other locations in England, but the agreement guarantees "at least two" NFL games per season.
NFL games have been lucrative business opportunities as well, with a Telegraph article claiming that gridiron matches at Wembley bring in around £1,000,000 per match. The Telegraph also claims that the new stadium will seat 61,000 fans, an increase of 5,000 from previous estimates of the new stadium's peak capacity.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell noted the league's excitement at expanding further into the UK market, as stated in Tottenham's press release:
"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," said NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. "We share a vision and commitment to creating the best experience for our teams, fans and the local community."
The new, state-of-the-art Tottenham Hotspur stadium itself will feature a retractable grass field with an artificial pitch surface below it that will be used for NFL matches. It is anticipated that the grass field will be used for soccer purposes only, since gridiron games produce much greater wear on grass surfaces than your average football match.
The new stadium is part of a much larger plan – the Northumberland Development Project – that seeks to improve the entire region of north London by attracting businesses and tourists to the area. Public funding has been secured to continue to improve infrastructure, including public transportation around the stadium, as well as retail and commercial space in the area to help boost the local economy and create jobs in the region.