The Raiders are going to London. The NFL announced on Tuesday that the team will play a home game at Wembley Stadium during the 2014 season, on a date to be determined.
The NFL said the Jacksonville Jaguars and Atlanta Falcons will do the same. Opponents will be announced later this year.
“We are excited and embrace this great opportunity to assist in building NFL popularity worldwide,” Raiders Owner Mark Davis said in a prepared statement. “The Raiders are truly a global brand and we are looking forward to our home-field advantage at the new Wembley Stadium.”
In order to do so, the Raiders must amend a stadium lease that has remained static despite a 2009 renewal. The team’s current agreement with the Oakland Coliseum and the Oakland-Alameda Joint Powers Authority, which expires after this season, states that each regular season home game must be played at the Coliseum.
No alternate sites are permitted under the current lease agreement/extension.
A new Raiders' lease agreement, which has yet to be negotiated, must amend that provision if the Raiders are to play in London as announced.
Fiscally speaking, Raiders stand to make much more from a London game than a typical home game in an aging stadium.
From a competitive standpoint, the team is adding an extra trip to an eight-game domestic slate. This additional trip is 5,362 miles away, which changes the complexion of the Raiders schedule. The San Francisco 49ers, for example, won't return home following Sunday’s game at Tennessee. They’ll head to London for their Week 8 game against Jacksonville.
Teams typically have a bye week following a London game. West Coast teams are 1-1 in England.
Adding the Raiders to the international slate makes sense for the NFL. The team has a widespread fan base, and the Raiders boast a pair of players marketable across the Atlantic.
Offensive lineman Menelik Watson and defensive tackle Jack Crawford are British, and Crawford was born in London.
Watson has been an attraction for the British press, a group of which visited Raiders training camp on several occasions.
“The fan enthusiasm for our sport continues to grow,” NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said in a statement. “By playing two games in the UK this year, we are creating more fans. We hope that with three games in London next year we will attract even more people to our game.”
The Raiders have played international games four times before. They played a preseason game against the New Orleans Saints in 1990 at an older version of London's Wembley Stadium. They also played exhibitions in Miami in Japan in 1991, Denver in Spain in 1994 and the Dallas Cowboys in 2001 at Mexico City's Azteca Stadium.