Brits want NFL team within 5 years as Bucs push for second 'home' game away from Ray Jay
Just before the NFL's first London game of the 2015 regular season on Sunday, Britain's Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne told reporters Friday that he hopes to bring an American football team across the pond within the next five years.
According to Reuters, Osborne met Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross, New York Jets owner Woody Johnson and NFL executive vice president Mark Waller to discuss how to entice an NFL team to move to London.
"I want London to be the global sporting capital," Osborne said. "That's why I am supporting the NFL to bring one of their 32 teams to London permanently."
Back in Tampa Bay, the Buccaneers this week unveiled the team wants the ability to play a second "home" regular season game away from Raymond James Stadium starting in 2018. In exchange, the Bucs will inject upto $75 million to improve Raymond James and waive the Tampa Sports Authority's obligation to build the team a pradctice stadium.
The British leader's announcement is sure to stoke fears among fans and TSA board members that, if approved, the Bucs will soon play two regular season games each year in London, a city that has twice hosted the team in recent years. It's why the TSA's counter proposal prohibited the Buccaneers from playing both games (plus the preseason game already allowed under the existing contract) in the same city. The Bucs rejected that.
The Glazer family, which owns the Buccaneers, already have strong ties to the British sports scene. It has controlling interest in Manchester United, an English Premier League soccer team.
If the Bucs can suddenly play one quarter of the team's home games in London, the TSA worries it will build a following and eventually move there or threaten a move when the stadium lease is negotiated again.
Having fans in place is critical to a move, the NFL said Friday. Waller, with the NFL, put 2021 or 2022 as a goal to bring London a team. As Britain's the U.K. reported, Waller said that would give a team enough time to “build a fanbase that would be able to support a franchise.”