Sunday 18 March 2018

Daniel Levy sets out Tottenham's NFL franchise dream

Tottenham's new stadium could one day be home to a London NFL franchise
Tottenham's new stadium could one day be home to a London NFL franchise

Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy hopes a London NFL franchise will one day take up a permanent home at the Premier League club's new stadium.

As part of the Northumberland Development Project, the area around White Hart Lane is currently in the process of extensive redevelopment as Spurs build a new 61,000-seater venue , which is set to include facilities for American football such as a retractable grass pitch with a synthetic playing surface underneath which can be used for NFL games.

A 10-year partnership is already in place which will see two NFL matches a year hosted at Tottenham's new home, which is scheduled to open for the start of the 2018-19 English football season but will mean they play this season's Champions League fixtures at Wembley.

The success of games involving NFL teams at the national stadium since 2007 will see the 2016 NFL International Series expanded to include using Twickenham for the first time, when the New York Giants take on the Los Angeles Rams, as well as the Estadio Azteca in Mexico City.

The notion of a permanent London franchise is now very much on the agenda and could be in place by 2020.

Levy believes should the NFL opt to make that a reality, then Tottenham's new state-of-the-art stadium would present a ready-made home.

"We would welcome very much close co-operation with the NFL and a dedicated team," Levy said in an interview with ESPN.

"Obviously a decision is entirely theirs whether they do bring a team to the UK, and where it would be located is something that would be talked about, but yes, we would very much welcome that scenario."

Levy continued: "We worked together (on the design) because it needed to be viewed as a combined joint soccer and NFL stadium.

"In fact, the way we designed the whole experience is one side of the stadium is a dedicated soccer entrance and the other side is a dedicated NFL entrance.

"If it ever got to a stage where the NFL decided it wanted to have a permanent team in London, this stadium could literally be - whatever the team was - their stadium as opposed to an NFL team feeling they're renting Tottenham's stadium."

With the ability to change the playing surface from grass to an artificial pitch within two hours, there could even be the prospect of one day hosting both a Premier League and NFL match on the same day.

NFL executive Mark Waller said: "It wouldn't be absolutely out of the question. I don't think you'd want to do it on a regular basis, but as a unique feature, that might be a really interesting idea."

However, despite all of the positive vibes, Levy accepts there are no guarantees of attracting a permanent NFL team.

"Clearly we wouldn't both be putting all this into this stadium if there wasn't the prospect of one day a team eventually coming to London, but there are certainly no guarantees that a) a team comes to London and b) they have to use our stadium," he said.

"I think we're all putting the effort in in the hopes that they will do it."

Press Association

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