The League

Cameron Smith

Cameron Smith

Producer and Blogger for The Washington Post

It's All About Branding

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Of all the things you can say about the NFL, none ring more true than the fact that it's an impeccably run business. When other sports leagues were struggling, the NFL was cutting back, too, though they had no indications they profits were in decline. The league gets max dollars out of its television deals -- the new ones just got more expensive in the middle of a recession, after all -- and it knows how to leverage competitive balance on the field into lucrative coffers in merchandising and media rights.

That being said, there's reason to believe that the NFL is changing how it views the Super Bowl, turning it from a way to reward loyal NFL cities in warm climates with a fat payout and a compelling carrot for cold weather cities to build new stadiums to a way for the league to broadly expand its larger fan clientele and, in one case, the markets where the league belongs.

Obviously, we're talking about Europe here. No, NFL Europa never worked. It was a disaster. But it was also a brash experiment in spreading sub-standard football to limited markets amidst cultures that largely leave for entire months of that summer season to go on vacation. It was a poor, naive plan that was doomed to fail from the get-go.

The regular season games, on the other hand, haven't been a complete wash. Sure, they haven't sold out London's Wembley Stadium, but then again, Wembley holds 90,000 people plus stadium luxury suites. That's a massive amount of people to see a game in a sport that's essentially a cultural novelty.

Make that game the Super Bowl, an event with a level of pomp and circumstance only matched, possibly, by the UEFA Champion's League final, and there's little doubt that you'd hit that 90,000 capacity crowd. Remember, you'd have American fans traveling over to see their teams in the game and snapping up tickets from any apathetic English fans who lucked into seats (especially if one of the team's is from the East coast, where flights to London can be cheaper and sometimes even shorter than a trip out to Seattle, San Francisco or Los Angeles).

Yet while London has received the most attention as a novelty Super Bowl site -- thanks largely to reports that circulated in some London tabloids and, later, in the BBC (which has a lot more reputability than the aforementioned tabs) -- there's a site closer to home (at least in nationality) that could help the NFL expand back into the market it lusts after most heavily: Los Angeles.

Lost in the glitz of European potential is the glitziest location of all, the home of the NFL Network and the one major American city (by most conventional terms) that is conspicuously absent from having an NFL franchise: Los Angeles. The league and, particularly, Commissioner Roger Goddell have made no secret of their desire to find a way to stick a team in Los Angeles. If they had their way, someone would have been playing there, oh, five years ago.

So, how do you try to drum up support for a stadium and a new team? Well, it doesn't hurt to hold a great Super Bowl there, raising a ton of money and trying to convince local politicians that an NFL team could be an enormous economic and cultural success in the country's second largest city.

Would that work? Probably not, but it won't keep the NFL from trying. After all, if increased European and, eventually, Asian revenues are a goal, increased infrastructure and saturation of Southern California is an even bigger priority. That means that if either L.A. or London land a Super Bowl, it will definitely matter. After all, global spread as a device for economic expansion is nothing new for the NFL, it's just never been done in such a blatant attempt as staging the sport's signature event in a city that doesn't have a team in the past (since Pasadena's Super Bowl was awarded when the Raiders still played in L.A.)

By Cameron Smith  |  May 22, 2009; 6:38 AM ET  | Category:  Super Bowl Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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"When other sports leagues were struggling, the NFL was cutting back, too, though they had no indications they profits were in decline."

"(especially if one of the team's is from the East coast, where flights to London can be cheaper and sometimes even shorter than a trip out to Seattle, San Francisco or Los Angeles)."

"That means that both if either L.A. or London land a Super Bowl, it will definitely matter."

they? team's? that both if either? with newspapers in decline, you should edit more carefully. your job could be next.

"Make that game the Super Bowl, an event with a level of pomp and circumstance only matched, possibly, by the UEFA Champion's League final, and there's little doubt that you'd hit that 90,000 capacity crowd."

possibly? HAHAHAHAHA!

Posted by: slickwil2000 | May 22, 2009 1:20 PM

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