Arthur Blank: NFL games in London 'will lead to' a team there
Falcons owner Arthur Blank believes that NFL games in London "will lead to" a team playing there and the time it'll take is "less than you think."
The NFL offseason means time to look at the big picture and reflect on the league's borders. Dolphins owner Stephen Ross thinks it involves Los Angeles "within five years." And Falcons owner Arthur Blank sees a future in Europe.
Specifically, London. Asked by Peter King of theMMQB.com whether the games in London will lead to more games or a franchise, Blank believes one will lead into the other.
"I think it will lead to [a team]," Blank said. "I think it will start with an increased number of games. That will be translated into a very successful series of games, and eventually, I think a franchise. And maybe more than one. London’s a big city ... I think eventually having that many games says that we really are playing a season in London, so we probably ought to have a team here. I think it will be a natural progression to a team."
Wait, what? Maybe more than one? Talk about the cart before the horse if you're plugging TWO teams into London. Maybe Blank's right and it happens. But let's get one in there first.
And how many years will it take that to happen?
"Less than you’d think," Blank said. "The success has been remarkable, and I don’t see any reason why it’s going to slow down."
Blank pointed to the success of London games ("all three of the games for 2014 sold out immediately, 240,000 tickets") and said he's "very optimistic" about an NFL franchise ending up in London.
"I think that it’s proved conclusive that fans will come out when they see the real players playing games that are really meaningful, as opposed to NFL Europe," Blank said. "There’s been discussion about potentially having a franchise in London. I’m very optimistic. The approach that the international committee and the commissioner have taken is, ‘Let’s do London right, and then move from there to potentially somewhere else.'
"I’m sure there are wonderful cities in Europe, and elsewhere."
The biggest issue for the NFL is the logistics of an NFL team. Travel is a major issue and, just hazarding a guess here, players are more likely to want to live in America than they are Europe.
But if the NFL wants to expand to Europe, the NFL will expand to Europe. Blank's comments prove as much.
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