Will the NFL dazzle London? Early reports say yes
By Karyn Chenoweth Oct 28, 2007, 19:06 GMT
New York Giants\' Eli Manning (R) runs past Miami Dolphins Jason Taylor to score the first touch down at Wembley Stadium, 28 October 2007 during the season\'s first NFL game. The rebuilt Wembley Stadium hosts the first regular-season NFL game in Europe, with Dolphins playing the New York Giants. EPA/GERRY PENNY
LIVE: The rain is letting up a little bit, but the field is continuing to deteriorate according to the announcers of the Miami - Giants game, currently 13-3 in favor of New York at Wembley Stadium in London.
The NFL bug has bitten many fans in football crazy England - football for them being soccer, traditionally.
It may be premature, but the gamble the N.F.L. is taking may capture a broad and non-American audience.
The New York Times reports that hours before the game’s 5 p.m. local kickoff, football fans and some of their curious friends poured out of the nearby Underground and train stations and converged on the stadium.
The N.F.L. reports that 87 percent of the tickets were sold to people in Britain, and at least as many wore the jerseys of their favorite players and teams as fans in the United States do.
The Times reports that most of the jerseys represented an N.F.L. team other than the Giants or the Dolphins, the game’s participants, giving the afternoon the feel of an international convention, not an intense contest between two particular teams.
ESPN reports that American-style football debuted in Britain in 1982, when Channel 4 began broadcasting condensed highlight packages of N.F.L. games. Allegiances became instant and permanent; the best teams of the mid-1980s era — the Raiders, Dolphins, Patriots, Giants, 49ers and Bears included — remain among the favorite teams today.
The N.F.L. reports that more than 500,000 people registered online to buy tickets, far more than the stadium’s capacity of roughly 88,000. Thousands of those who bought tickets registered and were granted entry into the tailgate party outside the stadium.
The Times reports that the rainy weather didn't stop the festivities. On the indoor concourse, Alistair Kirkwood, the managing director of the N.F.L.’s British office, stood in a rain poncho.
“It’s what people think of when they think of London, isn’t it?” he said, according to the Times.
Forget Bangers and Mash and Spotted Dick, the food went Yankee too.
The Times reports that the vendors sold American-stadium standards — Coors Light and popcorn.
Visible in the stadium are large backdrops, one of the classic Art Deco hotels of Miami Beach, the other of the Manhattan skyline. A scaled-down replica of the Statue of Liberty was planted nearby.
The Times reports that fans - many who never thre a spiral in their life - lined up to try to throw footballs at targets.
Fans were allowed inside the stadium two hours before kickoff, according to the Times.
Wembley has massive awnings that cover most of the seats but leaves the playing field open to the sky. Fans — more than at an N.F.L. game in the states — stood at their seats and watched the players warm up.