Why are the Packers playing in London vs the Giants at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium? An overview of the NFL's International Series.

JR Radcliffe
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
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Just a prediction: church attendance in Wisconsin will take a dip on Sunday.

The Packers are playing bright and early at 8:30 a.m. against the New York Giants in London, the first time Green Bay has participated in the NFL's International Series. The game will be played at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium; here's what you need to know about the occasion.

Why are the Packers playing in London?

The NFL International Series has been going on in some form since 2007, when the NFL first started sending games to London. The league added a Mexico game in 2016 and, starting this year, Germany will get some games as well. 

The Packers famously are the last NFL team to finally play in one of these showcases. The first game was played Oct. 28, 2007, when the Giants edged the Dolphins, 13-10, and the NFL had one game per year for the first six years before expanding to two in 2013, three in 2014 and even four in 2017 and 2019.

Could it eventually lead to an NFL franchise in London? Speculation seems to always point in that direction

The New York Jets took on the Atlanta Falcons in a game at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London last season. The Green Bay Packers will play the New York Giants at that stadium on Sunday.

Is this considered a home game for the Packers?

It is indeed a home game for the Packers. Remember, though, the league expanded to 17-game schedules starting last year, so the Packers aren't losing a traditional home game at Lambeau Field per se. Last year, they had eight home games and nine road tests; this year, they'll still have eight true home games with the ninth as the London game and eight other road games. 

Barring another overseas assignment, it means the Packers won't get a true "extra" home game until 2024, with the AFC and NFC rotating which conference gets the extra hosting gig each year.

It's also curious that the Packers don't have a bye week immediately after the travel to London; Green Bay was given the option to take their bye in Week 6 and apparently declined. The team is scheduled to get the bye in Week 14 instead.

Starting this year, each team is guaranteed to play internationally at least once every eight years. 

When are the Packers leaving for London?

The Packers are leaving Thursday and expected to arrive early Friday morning. 

Why were the Packers the last team to go overseas?

The Packers have always refused to surrender a home game, citing the disproportionate economic impact giving up a home game would have on the market. Losing a game would amount to an estimated $15 million hit.

Not only that, but visiting teams were hesitant to face the Packers overseas, knowing if the Packers were on their original home schedule, they'd stand to gain a significant amount of traveling Packers fans for that contest. Economically, it just made sense for the NFL to keep Packers games stateside.

Once the schedule was expanded to 17 games, it meant Green Bay wouldn't be losing any additional games if one were played overseas, and now teams are compelled to play internationally on a rotating basis. 

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A general overall view as a red double decker buss passes by Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, the site of the Packers' game against the New York Giants on Sunday in London, England.

Where is Tottenham Hotspur Stadium?

It's in north London, which you probably should know is the capital city in England and the United Kingdom. It's between 8-10 miles away from Tower Bridge, Buckingham Palace, Big Ben or Abbey Road if those are your only reference points.

How many NFL games has the stadium hosted?

The first NFL game was played there in 2019, and on Oct. 2, the Vikings beat the Saints there, with the Packers-Giants matchup to follow a week later. An Oct. 30 game between the Jaguars and Broncos will also be played in London, but that will take place at Wembley Stadium. The Packers game will be the sixth NFL regular-season game at the stadium.

Tottenham Hotspur Stadium is a giant soccer stadium, right?

Yes, but there's a twist. The stadium was opened in 2019 with the intent to use it for multiple sports — including the NFL, making it the first stadium designed with the NFL in mind outside North America. The artificial turf for NFL games actually lies beneath the soccer surface, which breaks away in three segments to reveal the NFL surface and rolls into storage beneath the stands.

You should really check out this time lapse of how it all comes together.

Who normally plays at the stadium?

Tottenham's Harry Kane celebrates after scoring the opening goal during the English Premier League soccer match between Tottenham Hotspur and Wolverhampton Wanderers at Tottenham Hotspur in London on Aug. 20, 2022.

Naturally, Tottenham Hotspur, a soccer club in the Premier League, plays at Tottenham Hotspur stadium. That was supposed to be a temporary name, but a sponsor hasn't been secured for naming rights yet. Some call it New White Hart Lane, given that the Tottenham Hotspur club previously played at a stadium known as White Hart Lane, since demolished with the new digs built on the same location. The construction looks an awful lot like when Miller Park was being built adjacent to County Stadium in Milwaukee in the late '90s and early 2000s.

Tottenham ranks third in the Premier League standings as of Oct. 5, with their next game on Saturday. 

How many people does the stadium seat? 

Capacity is 62,850, which by comparison seats far less than the 81,441 who can squeeze into Lambeau Field. But it's the third-largest stadium in England and the largest in London.

New York Jets players warm-up before an NFL football game between the New York Jets and the Atlanta Falcons at the Tottenham Hotspur stadium in London, England, Sunday, Oct. 10, 2021. (AP Photo/Ian Walton)

Where does the Tottenham name come from, and why is their mascot a cockerel?

Tottenham is the name of the town in the north borough of London.

The Spurs were founded in 1882, with the Hotspur nickname stemming from a late-1300s English noble who appears as a famous character in Shakespeare's "Henry IV," Sir Henry Percy (better known as Harry Hotspur).

Their mascot is a cockerel (a young rooster), stemming from a bronze statue built in the early 1990s because Harry Hotspur was fond of cockfighting. There's a golden cockerel atop the new stadium. So perhaps you might catch a giant rooster mascot roaming about. 

Fireworks light the Tottenham Hotspur's golden cockerel at the top of the stadium before the start of the English Premier League soccer match between Tottenham Hotspur and Crystal Palace, the first Premiership match at the new Tottenham Hotspur stadium in London, Wednesday, April 3, 2019.

Just to be clear, is this 'England' or 'The UK?'

OK, here's your civics lesson, straight from the Smithsonian magazine. 

To start with, there's the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. The U.K., as it is called, is a sovereign state that consists of four individual countries: England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Within the U.K., Parliament is sovereign, but each country has autonomy to some extent. For the most part, Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish parliaments defer to the U.K. Parliament in “reserved matters” that deal with things like foreign policy and EU membership, but retain authority over “devolved matters” that deal with things like education and housing.

Though bound to the Crown and tied together in unity, the individual countries within the U.K. retain their own local identities and even their own regional languages. (Welsh, for example, is the official language in Wales even though the official language in the U.K., as a whole, is English.)

Since becoming a republic in the 1940s, the Republic of Ireland (which shares a border with Northern Ireland) has operated as a sovereign state of its own. Though it is physically close to the U.K., the Republic of Ireland has its own relationships and memberships with the United Nations, the European Union and other international organizations.

London is the capital of both concepts.

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JR Radcliffe can be reached at (262) 361-9141 or Follow him on Twitter at @JRRadcliffe.

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