London is indeed calling. Finally.
The NFL announced on Thursday the Seattle Seahawks are going to play in London for the first time in 2018, against the Oakland Raiders on Oct. 14 at the new stadium of the English Premier League’s Tottenham Hotspur soccer team in north London.
Seattle will be the designated “road” team, meaning the Seahawks did not give up one of their eight home games for next season. It will be the first NFL game played in Tottenham’s new, 750-million-pound ($1-billion, for us Yanks) palace.
NFL UK managing director Alistair Kirkwood told ESPN in October: “We have a desire to get the other six teams that haven’t been over.”
Seattle is one of the six teams that has yet to play a regular-season game in London. Green Bay, Philadelphia, Carolina, Houston and Tennessee are the others. The Packers and Panthers are among the Seahawks’ other opponents in 2018.
The other NFL games in London this year: Philadelphia against Jacksonville and Tennessee versus the Los Angeles Chargers.
The league has rules requiring teams playing in temporary home stadiums and ones that have recently been awarded Super Bowls to play international games, usually as the “home” teams. That’s why the Chargers are in one of the London games this year.
The league has also often sent teams that have had trouble selling out home games to London to play there as the designated “home” team: Oakland (twice), Jacksonville (three times) and the Los Angeles Rams (three times). In the past, designated home teams have received $1 million for moving a game to London.
The Seahawks don’t want or need any of that. They have 12,000 who have filled capacity with deposits into their “Blue Pride” membership notification list, the on-deck circle to buy future season tickets that have been sold out for most of the last decade. There are another 68,000 fans waiting to move up onto that “Blue Pride” notification list. Seattle has sold out 130 consecutive home games at CenturyLink Field, dating to the 2003 season.
So, no, the Seahawks didn’t want to give away a home game to London. That made them a “road” team in London.
NFL studies have shown only about 3 percent of fans attending the London games each year are Americans. About 22 percent are from London and 60 percent from the rest of Great Britain.
The league typically has had teams that play in London each season arrive around Thursday before the Sunday game, then go on their one bye week of the regular season immediately following the game in England.
So at least the Seahawks’ bye is in a more optimal time of late October, close to the midway point of the 16-game regular season.
Want to go across the pond to see Seattle’s first game in the UK? The team’s official release on the game included this preliminary ticket information:
“Ticketing details will be announced by NFL UK on January 18. Anyone interested in registering their interest in attending any of the games can do so at www.ticketmaster.com/nfl to ensure they receive all the latest information.”
The dates and times of Seattle’s other 15 games will be announced by the league in April.