London’s Olympic Stadium is in need of a tenant, and London mayor Boris Johnson thinks the NFL could be the right match.
Just a few days after the NFL’s sixth regular-season game at Wembley Stadium, Johnson said he has spoken with the league about playing more games in the British capital.
“Sunday’s game at Wembley, in front of over 80,000 fans, further cements London’s reputation as the natural home of American football outside of the United States,” the mayor’s office said in a statement.
“Given the ever-growing popularity of (the NFL) on this side of the Atlantic, the mayor and his team have held a number of meetings with senior executives in the last few days to explore further opportunities involving the NFL and London. The talks were exploratory. We are at an early stage, but the signs are encouraging.”
All six NFL games in London so far have been at Wembley Stadium, including the New England Patriots’ 45-7 win over the St. Louis Rams on Sunday. The two games scheduled for next season are also set for Wembley, and the NFL has a contract with Wembley through 2016.
But the Olympic Stadium, built for this year’s Summer Games, has yet to find a permanent resident. Johnson happens to be the chairman of the London Legacy Development Corporation, which is responsible for deciding how the Olympic Stadium will be used.
The Olympic Stadium is not due to reopen before 2014. The NFL has raised the possibility of having a full-time franchise in London, although that is still considered a long shot.
The Patriots moved to shore up their shaky secondary by obtaining cornerback Aqib Talib from the Buccaneers before the NFL’s trade deadline passed Thursday afternoon. The Patriots traded their fourth-round pick in next year’s draft for a seventh-round pick and Talib, who is coming off his second NFL suspension. … Eagles coach Andy Reid said he never considered benching quarterback Michael Vick, he just wanted to step back and evaluate the beleaguered veteran. … Packers receiver Greg Jennings had surgery to repair the torn abdominal muscle that has sidelined him for much of the season. He said on Twitter that the sugery “went well.” … The Steelers will travel to and from New Jersey on Sunday, the same day they are scheduled to play the Giants, because the hotel where they planned to stay is without power. NFL teams normally travel the day before a game, but the league made an exception for the Steelers because of superstorm Sandy. … The NFL and the players’ union are combining to donate $1 million to the American Red Cross to help in the recovery efforts in the Northeast after Sandy.