The NFL will reduce its presence in London by one game in 2018, from four to three, the league announced Thursday morning. For the first time, however, the games will be played in consecutive weeks, as the league continues to build out its operational structure in the United Kingdom.
The schedule also features three teams that haven't yet played in the International Series: The Seattle Seahawks, Philadelphia Eagles and Tennessee Titans. By the end of the 2018 season, the only teams not to have played a game in London will be the Houston Texans, Green Bay Packers and Carolina Panthers.
"This is another important year as we develop our plans for London and the U.K.," said Mark Waller, the NFL's executive vice president of events and international. "By playing games on three consecutive weeks, we will learn a lot, both from the fans buying tickets and attending games, and from a logistics and organizational standpoint."
The series will begin in Week 6 with a Seahawks-Oakland Raiders game at the new Tottenham Hotspur stadium, built with cooperation and input by the NFL. In the following two weeks, the Eagles will play the Jacksonville Jaguars, and the Titans will play the Los Angeles Chargers, both at Wembley Stadium. The order of those games will be announced closer to the season.
The Raiders, Jaguars and Chargers agreed to give up a home game to play in London. The Raiders and Chargers are awaiting construction of new stadiums, and the Jaguars have a long-term agreement to play in London to combat low local revenues in Jacksonville.
The new Tottenham stadium will feature the world's first dividing, retractable soccer pitch -- with an artificial surface underneath that will be used for NFL games and concerts -- and a dedicated NFL entrance. There will also be NFL-sized dressing rooms and dedicated NFL medical and media facilities, and the stadium has been designed to ensure the sight lines are as good for NFL as for soccer.
The NFL has contributed £10m toward the tailoring of the stadium. Tottenham Hotspur and the league will split gate receipts and food, drink and merchandise sales from NFL games there.
The NFL will also stage a game in Mexico City as part of an agreement that locks the league into annual games there through 2021. http://www.espn.com/espn/print?id=22041701