10 things to know for Green Bay Packers fans going to London for New York Giants game
GREEN BAY – Green Bay Packers fans are on track to reverse the British Invasion, storming London for a game against the New York Giants.
They will be joined by many United Kingdom and European fans who've developed a deep devotion to the Packers and are thrilled that at long last the team is playing in London. The Packers are the last of the NFL's 32 teams to play in the International Series.
If you've never been to England, and perhaps even if you have, here are some things to know to get the best out of the trip.
Game is sold out, but expect plenty of ticketless fans about
The Packers and the Giants are scheduled to play at 2:30 p.m. London time (8:30 a.m. Green Bay time) Sunday at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in northeast London.
The stadium holds about 19,000 fewer fans than Lambeau Field and tickets were divided between several fan bases, including Packers, Giants and local soccer fans. As a result, tickets sold out quickly. Some are available on secondary marketplaces, but at a cost, although prices have come down more than $100 as game-day nears and it's less likely Americans will buy them.
Some events were arranged for fans who could not get tickets, but those sold out quickly too. That may not stop fans from coming to the stadium district.
"Certainly, the number of Packers fans I've been in touch with ... there are many coming over from Wisconsin or wider in the states that don't have tickets ... who've said I'm going anyway," said Peter Jones, a Packers fan who lives outside London. "Normally, a soccer match, people wouldn't mill around the stadium if they didn't have a ticket, but I think for this game there will be lots."
How Lambeau Field and Hotspur Stadium are the same, different
Like Lambeau Field, Tottenham Hotspur Stadium is cashless, which will save a lot of time trying to do currency conversions in your head.
Also like Lambeau, you'll speed things along by bringing fewer things into the stadium. Bag searches delay entry, so if possible, leave them behind.
Normally home to soccer matches, Hotspur Stadium was purpose-built to host games for the NFL's International Series, complete with a sliding stadium floor that allows it to have either a soccer pitch or American football turf.
With a capacity of 62,850, it is the third-largest football stadium in England, but would be larger than only Soldier Field in the NFL. It is smaller than Lambeau Field by 18,941 seats.
The stadium was conceived in 2007 to replace the White Hart Lane stadium, but construction didn't start until 2015. The new stadium opened in April 2019. It cost more than $1.3 billion.
Joe Simpson, an English Packers fan who lives in London, said Hotspur Stadium is a great place to watch football. While the stadium holds nearly 63,000 fans, it has an intimacy that makes it feel like 30,000, he said.
Packers plan three days of pep rallies
The Packers plan three pep rallies before the game, on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, at Belushi's Sports Bar, 161-165 Borough High St., near the London Bridge. Belushi's will be the headquarters of Packers Everywhere, the fan engagement arm of the Packers, for the weekend.
The Thursday and Friday rallies will be in later afternoon, the Saturday rally in early afternoon, with exact times to be announced later.
The Barrowboy and Banker pub, 6-8 Borough High St., also will welcome Packers fans.
Your dollars are worth a lot of pounds
This is a great time for American travelers because the British pound is at record lows against the U.S. dollar. That means the dollar will be worth more, so have an extra pint.
Some may need to learn English, even if it's their first language
It was George Bernard Shaw who reputedly observed that "The United States and Great Britain are two countries separated by a common language."
Words like "knackered," "cuppa" and "knarky" could sound both familiar and foreign at the same time. It might help to study up on their meanings. Those three, by the way, mean "exhausted," "cup of tea" and "bad-tempered."
One other thing to keep in mind: If you run into someone in London with an accent, that would be you.
London weather is familiar for football
Weather in London in early October is much like weather in Green Bay at this time of year: some sun, some drizzly rain, temperatures in the high 50s and low 60s. In short, good football weather.
Packers will be all business in London
Don't expect to see the Packers around town. This is a business trip for them. They will come no sooner than they must — Friday in London — and leave right after the game, because they will face the New York Jets seven days and six time zones later.
The Packers pointedly have not said where players will be staying or what their practice schedule will be.
Underground avoids transportation 'nightmare'
The English rail unions are planning a one-day strike on Saturday, the day before the game. That will mostly affect people outside London trying to get into the city on Saturday for the game on Sunday.
The subway system, the London underground, will run as usual, and the underground is the best way to get around. Check distances and travel times in London on Google maps and you'll discover that driving around London is something you want to avoid. London traffic is considered among the worst in the world.
"Travelling in London itself by car can be a bit of a nightmare. The traffic is really bad. To be honest, the underground service is so good, that unless you know London inside out, the underground is the way to go," Jones said.
Tottenham Hotspur Stadium is well-served by public transit, according to the stadium website. White Hart Lane and Northumberland Park stations are located at 5- to 10-minute walks from the stadium; Tottenham Hale and Seven Sisters stations are about a 30-minute walk away.
Even if they are using the underground, fans should be aware that an Arsenal-Liverpool soccer match is scheduled for 4:30 p.m. The Arsenal stadium is about four miles from Tottenham Hotspur. The underground could be busier than usual leading up to the football game. Expect cars to be crowded, said Joe Simpson, who works for the underground.
Don't cut lines and more etiquette tips
Travel writer Claire Bullen offers these tips about visiting London:
"In public spaces, Londoners tend to keep to themselves, and are unlikely to engage with — or accost — strangers. But that rule flies out the window as soon as some poor, benighted soul decides to stand on the left of the escalator in any given Tube and train station. This may be London’s most sacrosanct code: the right is reserved for standing, and the left is the express lane for time-pressed commuters looking to power-stair-climb as quickly as physics allow. Get in their way and risk unholy wrath."
You can read more of Bullen's do's and don'ts of London here.
"Brits have an infamous predilection for queueing, and whether you’re lining up outside the hottest new restaurant in Soho or Shoreditch — or just waiting to board a bus, buy your groceries, or purchase train tickets — it is polite, nay, imperative to patiently wait your turn: Londoners do not abide a queue-jumper. This applies to pubs, too, even if there isn’t a strict line of people extending from the bar. Instead, keep tabs on who’s come before you, and don’t try to order before they’ve had their go."
"Much as London is a cosmopolitan place, it can also be amusingly old-fashioned about bedtime: restaurants tend to stop serving food at 10pm, pubs and bars can close as early as 11pm, and while recent efforts towards making the Night Tube a thing are sort of working, public transit options are definitely less robust in the wee hours."
COVID status mirrors U.S. but wise to bring masks
COVID-19 continues in the United Kingdom just as it does worldwide, but like many Americans, people there have mostly ditched masks and are trying to get back to something like normal. As of Sept. 21, 69% of the population has had three vaccination shots, 88% percent has had two shots and, overall, cases are dropping.
Masks are optional on most airlines and public transportation in London, but it would be a good idea to bring one, or several, with you on your trip.