The NFL is having a tough time lining up the Green Bay Packers for a game in London and might have to wait until 2018.
The Packers won’t ever give up a home game to play in London because of the vital role home games play in the local economy. And few if any teams are willing to give up a home game against the Packers, because their fans travel so well that it’s a guaranteed sellout.
However, Packers President and CEO Mark Murphy said that the NFL can compel a team to play a specific game in London if it’s playing in a temporary stadium. The recently moved Rams will be playing in a temporary home, the Los Angeles Coliseum, for the next three seasons while their permanent stadium is built. Based on the NFL’s schedule formula, the Packers will play at the Rams in their final season in the Coliseum, 2018, so that game might be the best possibility.
Murphy wasn’t aware of the Packers’ 2018 schedule at the time of the interview, but he said the NFL wants the Packers to play in London as soon as possible. The league will play three games there in 2016.
“We’re a unique team with our ownership structure and our fan base,” Murphy said of the appeal of the Packers for a London game. “I think it would be good for the league, too. We would love it. The challenge is that we travel so well teams are reluctant to give up home games against us.”
Murphy said that teams that host the Super Bowl can be compelled to play in London as well. The Minnesota Vikings will host the Super Bowl in February 2018 (for the 2017 season), though it’s unclear whether the league would move a popular and important division-rivalry game overseas.
Murphy also said the Packers are expecting to play in the Pro Football Hall of Fame game in Canton, Ohio, to start the 2016 preseason. Brett Favre is on the ballot for this year’s Hall of Fame class, and it’s a given he’ll be inducted, so that makes the Packers a natural choice because the induction ceremony is the night before the game.
That means the Packers will have five preseason games in 2016 instead of the usual four.