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NFL mulling London Super Bowl in distant future

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NFL mulling London Super Bowl in distant future

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As the NFL prepares for its third straight Sunday in London, the league already has discussed the idea of one day playing a Super Bowl in the British capital, according to commissioner Roger Goodell.

A Super Bowl in London is not happening anytime soon, but the NFL has at least pondered the possibility of it.

“It is not impossible, and it is something that has been discussed before,” Goodell told a fan forum in London last week.

The priority continues to be to play Super Bowls in cities with NFL franchises, but the league also has a strong desire to grow its brand internationally, as evidenced by Sunday’s TitansRavens contest — the third London game in as many weeks.

Some sources around the NFL believe a London Super Bowl will be a reality one day, but it is not close to happening at this time. The next three Super Bowls already are slated to be played at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas in February 2024, Caesars Superdome in New Orleans in February 2025, and Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, California, in February 2026.

There has been no momentum building yet for a Super Bowl in London, but as one league source told ESPN last week: “Absolutely, it would make sense.”

“I think that is not out of the question,” Goodell said at the fan forum. “But at the end of the day, I think right now our formula will stay the same about playing [Super Bowls] in cities that have franchises.”

A London Super Bowl would bring a unique set of logistical challenges, not the least of which is the time difference. The game would have to be played at night in London — hypothetically 8:30 p.m. local time, which would be 3:30 p.m. ET in the United States and 12:30 p.m. on the West coast.

The three London games this season have kicked off at 9:30 a.m. ET in the United States, 2:30 p.m. local time.

But as usual, these types of decisions often hinge on revenue, and the league at this time wants revenue to continue to flow to cities that currently support NFL teams.

“I think being able to play it in one of our cities — it’s at a huge economic boost to those cities,” Goodell said at the fan forum. “Our fans live in those cities also. I think that is important. Not that we do not have great fans here (in London), we do. So, as the international series develops, maybe that is a possibility as we play more games here.”

Sources around the NFL have speculated in recent weeks that it’s only a matter of time before the league shifts its focus to playing a Super Bowl in London. One league official who was in London in recent weeks commented that it felt like the league was using these three international games — FalconsJaguars, Bills-Jaguars, and Titans-Ravens on Sunday — as a trial balloon for bigger concepts in London.

The NFL will play five games this year in Europe — three in London and two in Germany — and is preparing to play future international games in Spain and Brazil, according to NFL executive vice president Peter O’Reilly. The league sent officials last month to investigate the possibility of playing the first NFL regular-season games in Madrid, Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo as soon as next season.

O’Reilly also has said the NFL also is studying the possibility of playing a regular-season game in Australia, although the logistics of a game there would be more challenging.

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