St. Louis Rams To Play Three Regular Season "Home" Games in UK

January 20, 2012

In an unprecedented move, the St. Louis Rams have committed to playing three regular-season home games abroad on an annual basis, the NFL announced today.

The Rams will play one regular-season home game in London in 2012, 2013, and 2014, beginning with a game against the New England Patriots on Sunday, October 28, 2012, at historic Wembley Stadium.

"The response to NFL games in the U.K. among our British fans has been exceptional," said NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell.  "We are confident that having the Rams host one game in the U.K. in each of the next three seasons will allow us to better serve the growing popularity of our sport beyond the borders of the United States."

Last October 11, NFL owners approved a resolution that authorized the league to schedule regular-season games in the U.K. in each of the next five years.  All clubs were permitted to volunteer to play at least one regular-season game per year as a home team in the U.K. on an annual basis for up to five years, and the Rams’ proposal was selected.

"This is a tremendous honor for our franchise, the city of St. Louis and our fans throughout the world," said Rams owner Stan Kroenke.  "We are excited about the opportunity to reach new audiences globally."

By playing three consecutive home games in London, the Rams are taking a calculated risk.  Essentially the team will be adding another road game to its schedule which could have an impact on the franchise's win-loss record and ability to get into the playoffs.

On the other hand, the Rams could position themselves to be one of the more popular teams among international fans due to the continuity of their three consecutive appearances.

The Rams, who earlier this week announced the hiring of head coach Jeff Fisher, will face the Patriots – who on Sunday will play for the AFC Championship and a berth in Super Bowl XLVI – next season in London.  New England defeated the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in London in 2009.

The international series of regular-season games to date has contributed to increased NFL fan interest in the U.K., with a current fan base of 11 million, including more than two million avid fans, a 32% increase in the past two years.

Television ratings have also shown tremendous growth – with Sunday viewership of NFL games up 154% and the Super Bowl audience increased 74% since 2006 – while the league has developed new and stronger business partnerships.

“When the initial resolution to play international regular-season games was approved in 2006, the thinking at the time was that we would have two new teams every year,” said NFL Vice President of International Chris Parsons.  “As the series evolved, we saw that having a team return to the U.K. on a regular basis would increase fan interest for that particular team, which in turn would drive fan growth for the entire league.”

The game between the Rams and Patriots at Wembley Stadium will be the only NFL contest in the U.K. next season.

By Staff of The Daily Sports Herald

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