By Matthew Asher
Yet again the Atlanta Falcons are going to be part of a new trend. In the past six seasons the NFL has had one regular-season game each year played “Across the Pond” in England. For the 2014 season, the NFL will have three games played in legendary Wembley Stadium. The other two teams scheduled to play in London are the Jacksonville Jaguars and the Oakland Raiders. The opponents for each team will not be set until later this year.
“Our fans in the U.K. have continued to demonstrate that they love football and want more,” NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said in a statement.
The first of these games outside North America (there was a 2005 game between the Cardinals and 49ers in Mexico City) was between the Miami Dolphins and the New York Giants in 2007. New York defeated Miami 13-10. There have only been two games where the outcome has been decided by more than one score (both won by the Patriots), meaning the fans have stayed entertained and have not been subjected to a blow-out.
The Falcons, Jaguars and Raiders will all be considered the home team for their respective games. On Tuesday the Georgia World Congress Center Authority board voted unanimously to waive for 2014 a provision in the Falcons Georgia Dome lease which requires the team to play all eight regular-season home games in the Georgia Dome every season. By waiving the petition, Atlanta will be allowed to host just seven home games next season.
Not that fans should be worrying about the finances of the Falcons, but because they are giving up a home game in Georgia, the NFL has a deal where they will make the Dome “financially whole” meaning they will pay the Dome an amount equal to what the home game played in Georgia would have generated for the building.
Of course the owner of the Atlanta Falcons, Arthur Blank, is excited about the opportunity to play overseas. “We are excited and honored to serve as ambassadors for our city, our state and the (NFL),” Blank said. “Playing in London will provide tremendous exposure to our team, as well as provide the opportunity to showcase the great international city of Atlanta.”
While Atlanta’s trip to England will mark the first time in franchise history the team plays outside of North America, it will not be the first time the Falcons will have played outside the United States. The Week 13 matchup between the Atlanta Falcons and the Buffalo Bills will take place at the Rogers Centre in Toronto, Ontario.
For more Falcons news and updates, visit Falcons Central.
Matthew Asher is a freelance journalist. From an early age, sports have played a major role in his life. He graduated from Emory University with a B.A. in Journalism. After college he spent 2 years working with CNN Sports and still occasionally writes sports articles for several publications both in the United States and Canada. His work can be found on Examiner.com.