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Rick Stroud, Greg Auman and Matt Baker

Goodell: Bucs interested in playing a home game in London every year



The Bucs have expressed an interest in playing a home game in London every year, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said Saturday.

Speaking at a fan forum in London at the Landmark Hotel, Goodell said the league's owners have agreed to play two regular season games in London starting next year.

Goodell said the Bucs, who will play their second game in two years at Wembley Stadium Sunday, are among several teams that have expressed an interest in playing a game in London annually.

"They've shown an interest just by being here two out of three years,'' Goodell said. "I think we want to try to get as many teams back here but teams are interested in coming back consistently or more frequently, we're going to continue to look at that.

"We've talked to several teams about it and Tampa is one of them.''

The Bucs have had 16 of their past 17 games at Raymond James Stadium subject to local television blackouts because they failed to sell out 72 hours  prior to kickoff. Goodell said he is sensitive to the reaction of Bucs fans possibly losing a home game each year. But he said that in some ways, it will continue to reduce the price of season tickets and increase demand.

"Sure. I mean, we've had to deal with this in Buffalo, too, where they're playing a game in Toronto,'' Goodell said. "In fact, in some ways, it helped strengthen the team in Buffalo because it makes less tickets available, it's less of a charge for season ticket holders in Buffalo or Tampa, if that was the case. And that's a positive in some ways. So we continue to look at how we do it balancing the interest of the clubs, obviously.''

Goodell said NFL owners decided within the past two weeks to play multiple games at Wembley Stadium and the only question is to determine whether to play those games in consecutive weeks or space them apart.

"That's a debate we're having internally about what the best structure is,'' Goodell said.

"I would expect multiple games here as early as next year.

 "We are very focused on having multiple games here and we think we can be successful. Our audience has grown dramatically. I think it's doubled since we started a regular game series here in the U.K., and that's based on ratings around the U.K...We want to bring our game to continental Europe. The issue is we want to make a success out of the U.K. We think this has all the basics we need to be successful. It's got a great fan base, an advanced media market and a great stadium. We have a long history here. So with all of those things...let's make it work, and if we can be successful here, we can take that model potentially to continental Europe.''

The Glazer family, which owns both the Bucs and the Manchester United soccer club, has been at the forefront of wanting to brand their NFL franchise globally.

"One of the things that's changed over the last five years when we changed our strategy to bring regular season games here is the amount of interest of teams to come here,'' Goodell said. "They want to come here to play. We're actually now in a position where we're telling a lot of teams 'sorry, maybe next year.' That's a good thing for fans I think because we'll see more teams coming over here and exposing their teams to the marketplace.

"The Buccaneers have taken a real interest in it. Obviously, the Glazer family has an interest over here with Man U and I think they recognize that the growth of the league is important and they've been leaders in this area so they've stepped up in that position. And I think they want the Bucs to become a global franchise and I think it's a great thing for Tampa and I think it's a great thing for the NFL.''

Earlier this week, Bucs general manager Mark Dominik said he had not had any discussions with the Glazers about playing a regular season game in London every year. But he certainly didn't sound opposed to it.

He noted that the travel was only 1 1/2 hours longer than a trip to the west coast. This year, the Bucs arrived in London on Monday, gave the players their normal Tuesday off to tour the city and then began practicing 45 minutes away at their hotel in Bagshot, England. The arrangement allowed players to bond and adjust to the time zone easier than in 2009, when the team arrived in London on Friday.



[Last modified: Saturday, October 22, 2011 9:10am]


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