Blow for NFL as Rams withdraw London commitment
The St. Louis Rams National Football League (NFL) have reversed plans to play a regular season game in London in each of the next three seasons.
Although the Rams will fulfill this year's scheduled visit, a game against the New England Patriots at Wembley Stadium in October, a statement from the team on Monday said the Rams were 'withdrawing their commitment to play a home game in London in each of the 2013 and 2014 seasons'.
The news is an undoubted blow for the NFL as it looks for ways to increase its international expansion and comes after the Rams' decision to concentrate on developing the team's Edward Jones Dome stadium, an essential move for the city of St. Louis as it strives to keep its NFL franchise.
The Rams' 30 year lease to use the venue, operated by the St. Louis Convention and Visitors Commission, includes a termination clause after 2014 should renovation work not be carried out to make the stadium 'First Tier', or, as the St. Louis Post Dispatch newspaper reported, 'better than three-quarters of all NFL venues in 15 categories'.
There has long been speculation about the Rams' future in St. Louis, with Los Angeles and even London suggested as potential new long-term homes for the franchise.
Speaking on Monday Kevin Demoff, the team's executive vice president of football and chief operating officer, said: "Moving forward, we believe our attention needs to be on the ongoing first-tier process. We have worked closely with the NFL in coming to this decision and remain key supporters of the international series and its objectives.”
Following the original London announcement, Rams' fans were also said to be less than pleased at the prospect of losing one of only eight home games in each of the next three years.
The news is an undoubted blow to the NFL, which is now working on finding another team willing to give up a home game in 2013 and 2014. January's announcement had been trumpeted by the league as the latest step in a steady international expansion, which has seen a regular-season game played at Wembley each year since 2007.
Rams owner Stan Kroenke, who is also the majority shareholder in London Premier League club Arsenal, said at the time the Rams were "excited about the opportunity to reach new audiences globally," adding: "This is a great platform to showcase the city of St. Louis to London and the UK."
Despite the Rams' announcement, the NFL does retain its agreement from all team owners to play regular season games in London for the next five seasons. The league has previously considered playing multiple games per season in the UK.blog comments powered by Disqus
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