London’s Wembley Stadium Ready For Nfl Franchise

Sputtering Vikings hope losing will stop in London, as team tries to reverse course overseas

Heavy smoke rises from the Westgate Mall in Nairobi Kenya Monday Sept. 23 2013. Multiple large blasts have rocked the mall where a hostage siege is in its third day. Associated Press reporters on the scene heard multiple blasts and a barrage of gunfire. Security forces have been attempting to rescue an unknown number of hostages inside the mall held by al-Qaida-linked terrorists.  (AP Photo/ Jerome Delay)

“I am absolutely confident if (NFL Commissioner) Roger Goodell wanted to have a franchise here we could absolutely deliver on it.” Known for being England’s national football stadium – the other football, played with a round ball – Wembley started staging regular-season NFL games in 2007. On Sunday, the Minnesota Vikings play the Pittsburgh Steelers , before the Jacksonville Jaguars face the San Francisco 49ers on Oct. 27. It is the first of four games over four seasons in London for the Jaguars, raising the prospect of the Florida team one day uprooting to London, where owner Shad Khan bought Premier League club Fulham in July. The two 2013 games sold out within hours, which Maslin said is a sign of the rising popularity of the NFL in Britain. Sunday’s game matches a pair of 0-3 clubs. The “core fan base” in the U.K. is now more than 2 million, according to Chris Parsons, the NFL’s senior vice president of international. That’s more than double the figure when the league first brought regular-season games to Wembley in 2007, but still not high enough for a franchise here to be sustainable. “We’ve doubled our fan base in the last 3 1-2 to four years,” Parsons said. “I’d like to see that at least double again in the next three or four years. That would put us among the top five sports in the U.K. in terms of core fan base.” While having a full-time franchise in London is still “clearly an option” for the NFL, Parsons cautioned that there are no immediate plans. “There are several steps we need to continue to take before we get to that deeper conversation,” Parsons said.

Heading into the first of two regular-season games at Wembley this year, it’s clear that stadium officials want to see a lot more of the NFL as well. London’s Wembley Stadium started staging regular-season NFL games in 2007. (AP Photo) MORE: Jaguars getting comfortable overseas? | Week 3 NFL recap | Best images With the league expanding its annual international series from one game to two this year, the usual questions arise whether one day the league will expand to London. And while the league says any such decision is several years away, Wembley officials say they’ll be ready if the day comes. Squeezing in a full slate of home games on Sundays shouldn’t interfere with the stadium’s commitments to host England’s national team soccer fixtures and other events, Wembley’s managing director Roger Maslin said Monday. “Absolutely we can,” Maslin said in an executive box overlooking the Wembley pitch. “I am absolutely confident if (NFL Commissioner) Roger Goodell wanted to have a franchise here we could absolutely deliver on it.” Known for being England’s national football stadiumthe other football, played with a round ballWembley started staging regular-season NFL games in 2007. On Sunday, the Minnesota Vikings play the Pittsburgh Steelers, before the Jacksonville Jaguars face the San Francisco 49ers on Oct. 27. It is the first of four games over four seasons in London for the Jaguars, raising the prospect of the Florida team one day uprooting to London, where owner Shad Khan bought Premier League club Fulham in July. The two 2013 games sold out within hours, which Maslin said is a sign of the rising popularity of the NFL in Britain. Sunday’s game matches a pair of 0-3 clubs. The “core fan base” in the U.K. is now more than 2 million, according to Chris Parsons, the NFL’s senior vice president of international.

Ive got to hit the ground running. The Vikings had three turnovers against the Browns to go with six three-and-out possessions. The defense has eight takeaways over the last two games, a wasted accomplishment. Ponder isnt the only problem, but he has seven of the teams 10 giveaways and a persistence of off-target throws on critical plays. You cant turn the ball over at the rate that were turning it over and expect to win, unless Ive said this before youre so superior to your opponents, coach Leslie Frazier said. And were not. There are plenty of issues on the other side of the ball, too, beginning with the quiet pass rush from a defensive line thats supposed to be one of the teams true strengths. The biggest concern this week, though, is depth at defensive back. Cornerbacks Chris Cook (groin) and A.J. Jefferson (ankle) and safety Jamarca Sanford (hamstring) were scheduled for MRI tests Monday. Their injuries thinned out the secondary thats dearly missing cornerback Antoine Winfield, who was cut and later retired. Cook, the teams best player in pass coverage, has not been able to stay healthy since he was drafted in the second round in 2010. Hes a guy we need on the field.