It has been known for a while that the NFL will be playing games at Tottenham Hotspur’s new stadium after it opens next fall. Up until now, we just didn’t know how many, or when.
Now we do. Speaking at a press conference at Lilywhite House next to the stadium construction site, Spurs chairman Daniel Levy, London mayor Sadiq Khan, Martin Glenn, and NFL chief Mark Waller announced that the first NFL game will be held at the new stadium on Sunday, October 14, 2018 and will feature the Oakland Raiders vs. the Seattle Seahawks.
With the stadium set to open in September, this match will be the real test of how effectively Spurs can host a proper NFL game alongside its football operations. The stadium has been designed from the ground up with NFL games in mind, and features a state-of-the-art retractable grass field with an NFL field turf pitch underneath.
Levy had previously announced that the NFL had reached a ten-year agreement with Spurs to host “at least two” NFL games per season. So why only one in 2018? According to Waller, it was to basically give the NFL a shakedown cruise at its new home.
#thfc NFL chief Waller says just one fixture "enables us to achieve important learnings relating to the fans’ preferences, ticketing, team logistics and local transportation and infrastructure in order to create the best possible experience and environment."— Dan Kilpatrick (@Dan_KP) January 11, 2018
The new stadium is on track to open in August, and so hosting a game in October is a state of confidence from the club that the new ground is on pace to be on time and ready to go. Even so, this is basically Spurs doing a trial run and admitting that there are some things about hosting an NFL game that may be a bit rocky the first time around and that they can learn from.
One would also expect, even if the stadium is finished, that some of the areas around the stadium won’t be done. It feels a tad ambitious to host an important NFL game so soon after opening, but Levy said that this is just an important first step towards ensuring that the new partnership between the club and the NFL goes smoothly.
“This is a milestone year for the club as we look ahead to the opening of our new stadium and all that it will bring to the area of Tottenham.
”The announcement of the first game of the NFL’s 2018 London Games to take place at our new home heralds the commencement of our 10-year partnership. This is one of the cornerstones of our vision for creating a world-class sports and leisure destination that will make Tottenham a hive of activity 365 days a year and drive the regeneration of one of the most deprived areas of London.
”The NFL will bring a whole new audience to the local area, showcase Tottenham and bring further economic and social benefits with truly global coverage and attraction.”