London’s Calling

According to Harris Poll’s annual survey, over one-third of U.S. adults who follow at least one sport (34%) say pro football is their favorite sport, beating out baseball (16%) and college football (11%) by a wide margin. In separate findings, the NFL asserts that fan interest in the United Kingdom has risen by 32 percent over the last two years.

As pro football’s popularity surges in the U.S. and abroad, the NFL International Series is doubling the pleasure for fans across the pond … as well as Americans in search of the sports trip of a lifetime. London’s Wembley Stadium, which hosted its first International Series game between the New York Giants and the Miami Dolphins in 2007, will open its gates to NFL fans twice during the 2013 season.

On September 29, the Minnesota Vikings will take on the Pittsburgh Steelers in the first of the two-game series. Less than a month later, on October 27, the Jacksonville Jaguars will serve as the designated home team to the San Francisco 49ers, who, as you know, came within five yards of winning Super Bowl XLVII.

The possibility of not one, but two, opportunities to attend an NFL game on their own side of the Atlantic Ocean has to be welcome news for the millions of Europeans who stayed up well past midnight to tune in for the Super Bowl broadcast. The 2013 International Series’ two-game schedule also provides yet another avenue for the NFL and four of its teams to grow their fan bases, and their brands, on a more global basis.

The big winner could turn out to be the Jacksonville Jaguars, who signed on to play four games in London between this season and the 2016 NFL campaign. Given the opportunity to share its business, tourism, lifestyle and team profiles with an international audience over the next four years, it’s bound to pay tremendous dividends for the Jaguars, as well as the NFL.

“Our goal is to continue to grow the game, and this commitment by the Jacksonville Jaguars represents a major step forward in our international efforts,” NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said in making this season’s International Series announcement. “We have had a tremendously positive reaction to our sport in the U.K., and we’re excited that the Jaguars are seizing this opportunity to raise the profile for the team as well as the Jacksonville community.”

With a pair of NFL games scheduled for Wembley Stadium this season, the spotlight also will be shining brightly on the city of London and all its charms.

From Buckingham Palace to Piccadilly Circus—and all the fabled castles, cathedrals, towers and bridges in between—there’s a plethora of reasons why London is England’s most-visited city, not to mention one of the world’s leading tourism destinations. And, as the 2012 Olympic Games will attest, it plays a jolly good host to world-class sporting events.

From Big Ben (Roethlisberger) to Big Ben (the Clock Tower at the Palace of Westminster), the 2013 NFL International Series presents the perfect “bucket list” adventure for American football fans who are eager to combine a love of travel with their favorite pastime. As well as for the growing number of NFL fans who reside on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean.