Could Wembley Host The Super Bowl?

By Londonist Last edited 34 months ago
Could Wembley Host The Super Bowl?

The FA Cup final in New York? The Grand National in Paris? Wimbledon in Dubai? They all seem a little far-fetched. However, the prospect of the Super Bowl, America’s showcase sporting event, being hosted in London may not be as bizarre as it first sounds.

Perhaps feeling the pressure from the increased popularity of our football in the USA, the NFL is extremely keen to promote American football internationally — and especially here. wembley

In 2007, the UK’s appetite for American football was tested with one regular season game. Sold out almost instantly, this game’s success led to many more and now, eight years on, the sport is a regular fixture in London’s sporting calendar. Three games are played each year at Wembley Stadium and there are serious, government supported, plans for a permanent NFL team to be based at the stadium. So could a Super Bowl follow?

With Super Bowl XLIX taking place this weekend, we wondered if Wembley would be up to hosting America’s biggest sporting event, so pitted the London stadium against the host venue — the University of Phoenix Stadium in Arizona.

phoenixBoth stadiums were designed by London-based architect Populous (working with Eisenman Architects in the USA and Foster+Partners here). With a capacity of 90,000, Wembley has 18,000 more seats than the University of Phoenix Stadium — clearly enough to host the Super Bowl.

The London stadium is also newer (therefore better, right?), opening in 2007 — a year later than the Arizona stadium, it also cost £400m more to build (also better, right?).

Although Wembley has now hosted 11 NFL games, the University of Phoenix Stadium has significantly more practice at hosting the sport, as it is home to the Arizona Cardinals. (Don’t be confused by the name ‘the University of Phoenix’ — a kind US Open University with no intercollegiate athletics program, it is just the stadium’s corporate sponsor). In total 72 regular season games have been played at the Arizona stadium, and this is its second Super Bowl.

Both stadiums have retractable roofs. However, unlike Wembley’s half-closing roof, the University of Phoenix Stadium’s roof covers the entire playing field. The American stadium also has a pretty spectacular retractable pitch:

Although both stadiums have 47 retail units, Wembley wins on the number of lifts (26 to 10) and escalators (30 to 18) making it comfortably the better stadium.

On a Top Trumps-style face-off, it looks like Wembley is a hands-down winner to host the Super Bowl.

However, there's likely to be some nit-picking traditionalists getting in the way of such a move, so for now if you want to watch the Super Bowl in London you will have to settle for a television. Here's our pick of best places in the capital to catch the game.

By Tom Ravenscroft

Last Updated 30 January 2015

Greg Wesson

The big issue to overcome would be timing of the event so that it is still viable for west coast US audiences. The game would probably have to start at 8 PM, running until 11PM. That would then require extra hours for TFL and trains on a Sunday night. And you would probably still hear grumbles from the fans on the west coast of the States who have to start their Superbowl parties at midday.

TOM

I am all for a Super Bowl in London. The game can start at 6pm London Time, Which is 1pm NY Time & 10am Los Angeles Time. I would love a super bowl to be played in the day here in the USA. Its normal to have a start time here in NY at 1pm. So West Coast USA can have a breakfast super bowl. Super Bowl should be played in the early evening where its being played. Just remember the world cup final can come on at any time of the day. To promote the game internationally the Super Bowl should be played in the day here, evening in Europe/Africa. Too many times the Super Bowl is played at night here and its late night/early next morning in Europe/Africa. Let Europe/Africa see the game in a decent hour too and not when most of them are sleeping or about to go to sleep.