St Louis Rams to become regulars at London's Wembley
LONDON (Reuters) - The St. Louis Rams will play one regular-season home game in London for the next three years starting with a clash against the New England Patriots at Wembley Stadium in October, the NFL said on Friday.
While regular-season games have taken place at Wembley every year since 2007 when the New York Giants beat Miami Dolphins 13-10, the Rams are the first team to commit to playing 'home' matches abroad on an annual basis.
They will kick off an unprecedented new move for NFL on October 28 at 1pm local time with the game being televised live in the United States on CBS.
"The response to NFL games in the U.K. among our British fans has been exceptional," NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said in a statement.
"We are confident that having the Rams host one game in the UK in each of the next three seasons will allow us to better serve the growing popularity of our sport beyond the borders of the United States."
All NFL teams were invited to volunteer to play at least one regular-season home game per year in Britain for up to five years with the Rams' proposal getting the nod.
"This is a tremendous honor for our franchise, the city of St. Louis and our fans throughout the world," said Rams owner Stanley Kroenke, who is a majority shareholder in north London Premier League soccer club Arsenal.
"We are excited about the opportunity to reach new audiences globally. This is a great platform to showcase the city of St. Louis to London and the UK.
"We've seen first-hand the increased popularity of the NFL not only in London but throughout Europe. To play a role in that growth over the next three years will be incredible and is a testament to the many good things happening not only in the NFL but also in the St. Louis Rams organization."
The NFL say the hosting of regular-season games in Britain has led to a 32 percent rise in fan interest with two million people in Britain now avid followers of the sport.
(Reporting by Martyn Herman, editing by Alan Baldwin)