Tha Sports Junkies 101

Relocation And Expansion…The Future Of The NFL

Offseason Needs for all 32 NFL teams Keith Allison via Flickr


The National Football League is a big business. There’s one day out of the week dedicated to it (Sundays).

Monday Night Football has been a staple in the fall for decades.

Thursday Night Football now kicks off the NFL weekend. It’s as simple as supply and demand. Fans thirst for more football and the league makes it happen.

In 2014, the NFL generated an estimated 12 billion dollars. According to reports by the Green Bay Packers, the league’s only publicly owned team.

That’s more than the NHL (3.98 billion), NBA (5.18 billion), and MLB (9 billion).

When looking for cities to expand and relocate, the NFL looks for a city that’s rich in resources, a location that’s marketable, and relevant.

With the reemergence of the Rams in Los Angeles the NFL is now back in the second biggest market in the country.

There are three cities that I believe the NFL will look to expand or relocate to in the future. They are Toronto, London, and Las Vegas.

Although Toronto is the long-shot of the three, it certainly would be a nice asset to the NFL.

It has roughly the same population as Chicago, and teams in the other three major sports leagues (Raptors, Blue Jays, and Maple Leafs).

Before the death of Ralph Wilson, there were talks of the Buffalo Bills relocating to Toronto.

From 2008-13, the Bills played eight games (two preseason and six regular season) at the Rogers Centre. As a part of the NFL‘s International Series.

As a native of Western New York, I know first hand, the area isn’t rich in economic resources.

The Bills had the lowest average ticket prices in the NFL before playing “home” games in Toronto. The franchise earned nearly 60 million dollars from the agreement

Current owner Terry Pegula has no intentions of relocating the team to Toronto, or anywhere for that matter.

For what it’s worth, he isn’t opposed to another NFL franchise in southern Ontario. If it were to happen, the Bills would instantly have a new rival.

The Bills experiment in Toronto was a failure. With that being said, if Toronto were to ever get an expansion team, there’s no doubt, fans in Toronto wouldn’t support them.

Many fans in the greater Toronto area however, aren’t Bills fans.

Based on research conducted by Lieberman Research Worldwide, the Bills have steadily declined in popularity in Canada. They’re currently ranked 10th in merchandise sales.

The average attendance to Bills games at the Rogers Centre was 47,627. The building has a 54,000 capacity for American football games.

There was a steady decline in attendance however, as it plummeted to a 38,969 in 2013. The Bills were a combined 35-61 during that span.

The National Football League truly is a copycat league. The Jacksonville Jaguars look to be the next NFL team to expand outside of the U.S.They’re quickly earning the moniker as the league’s “international team”.

The Jags have been playing “home” games in London since 2012.

Last season, the Jaguars and the NFL agreed to play games at Wembley Stadium until 2020.

The NFL has also moved three regular season games overseas. This year’s match-ups include the Colts vs Jags (wk 5) Rams vs Giants (wk 7 played in Twickenham Stadium) and Bengals vs Redskins (wk 8). Regular season games have been played in London since 2007.

Like Buffalo, Jacksonville is one of the smaller market teams in the NFL.

For years , the Jags have struggled financially. Playing in London however, has had a great impact on franchise from an economic standpoint.

Ticket sales from the annual London trip accounts for 15 percent of ticket income.

The team website has gone from the least searched in the NFL, to one of the most popular.

Their game with the Bills in 2015 made history. It was the first NFL game to be streamed for free over the internet.

It’s 15.2 million viewers set a record for the most watched sporting event in internet history.

Owner Shad Khan is a London native, and has family there. He even considers the city to be the “centre of the universe”.

The connections are there, and a move to London doesn’t seem far fetched. British Chancellor George Osborne and London mayor Boris Johnson are major supporters of a NFL franchise in London.

Other than 2011, every game at Wembley Stadium has sold out.

A lot of that was due to the NFL lockout during the off-season. Still, the game that year drew 84,000 people.

Although the Jacksonville Jaguars may not fully commit to playing eight home games overseas, back-to-back weekend’s overseas may become a possibility.

In the 70’s and 80’s, the Raiders were widely known as the renegades of the NFL.

Led by the late Al Davis, the team was among the most relevant in all of football.

Forty some odd years later and the Raiders are on the cusp of being the first NFL franchise in Las Vegas. The move to “Sin City” would be an excellent fit from a marketability standpoint.

On the field, the Raiders look to be a a team on the rise.

Led by gunslinger Derek Carr on offense, and superstar Khalil Mack on defense, the organization appears poised to make the postseason for the first time since 2002.

Owner Mark Davis has been “hell-bent” on the Raiders relocating to Las Vegas.

In an interview on NFL Network in May, Davis wasn’t coy on showing emotion.

“I’m excited about it, “It’s a new market. It’s got the potential to be a really exciting market.”

The bigwigs in Vegas are all aboard the bandwagon as well. Mark Davis has the backing of Las Vegas Sands chairman and CEO Sheldon Adelson.

Adelson met with Davis in January, to announce that The Sands Corporation is financing a 65,000 domed stadium on the campus of UNLV. The 82 year-old Adelson has a net worth of $25.1 billion dollars.

He also has the support of Steve Wynn, who’s the owner of the Wynn Las Vegas Resort. He is exhausting his efforts to make the move to Vegas a reality.

“Absolutely love it,” Wynn recently told TMZ . “I’m really, really working hard to make sure that can happen. I’m really a big booster. I think having the Raiders in Las Vegas is the perfect thing to complement the city and to give everyone another excuse to come to Las Vegas.”

They say the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, and this move has Al Davis all over it.

It’s unfortunate he won’t see it come to fruition, but his son Mark will do all he can to continue the commitment to excellence. Just Wynn Baby!