Last week, Jaguars owner, Shahid Khan, placed an offer of $800 million to purchase London’s Wembley Stadium, a sale that could be completed in as soon as eight weeks. London has served as the Jacksonville Jaguars second home in recent years, leading some to believe Khan has a long-term vision of making England the team’s permanent home.
While having an NFL franchise a seven hour flight from its nearest opponent would be difficult, Khan spoke of bringing the Super Bowl to London.
“Our role would be to provide a world class venue,” Khan told BBC. “Wembley is a great stadium and you want to get it configured to hold Super Bowl and World Cup finals.”
Taking North American football’s biggest game away from North America would undoubtedly cause an uproar from fans, but once everyone is sitting in-front of their television watching the game, would the location really matter?
The most obvious hurdle with playing the Super Bowl at Wembley Stadium is the time difference. With London being five hours ahead of the east coast, it would be difficult to play the game in prime time within the United States. Even a 9pm start time from London, which would be exceedingly late, means a 4pm kickoff in New York and 1pm in Los Angeles.
Would a 1pm game-time in Los Angeles, for a Super Bowl played in London, generate the advertising revenue networks and the NFL are used to receiving? By selling 30-second spots for $5 million, NBC took in nearly $500 million in ad revenue for this year’s Super Bowl, which will set the benchmark for CBS next year. If playing the game in London means losing sponsorship money, it will be a tough sell.
All North American professional sports prioritize globalization of their league. It’s reasonable for an NFL owner purchasing an iconic London stadium to have aspirations of playing the Super Bowl there, but logistics would need to be established. The priority for the league remains to generate the most ad revenue, but if Commissioner Goodell and the NFL can rationalize starting the game late enough in London to be broadcast during prime-time in the U.S., then expect to watch a Super Bowl played at Wembley Stadium.