English Premier League club Tottenham Hotspur announced a ten-year agreement with the NFL to feature two American football games per year in their new stadium. The stadium, due to begin construction this year and open in 2018, will be the first dual-purpose football stadium, equipped for both American and English football.
The stadium, designed by the American architecture firm Populous, will be technologically state-of-the-art and artfully designed. The 61,000-seat stadium will have many unique features — chief among them a 17,000-seat single-tier home stand, the largest single tier in the league, backed by a five-story atrium with a food court and VIP fan facilities.
The outside of the stadium will also hold significant attractions. The club announced plans to build “The Tottenham Experience” in a new visitors’ center, including a club museum, interactive skills booths, and a cinema and team store. Additionally, there are plans for an exterior public square space for game day and community activities, and a “sky walk” allowing fans to climb to a rooftop viewing deck via an external walkway, promising spectacular views of London.
Perhaps the most unique feature, and the key element to make the stadium a truly dual-purpose facility, is a first-of-its-kind retractable grass pitch. A second surface with artificial turf will be installed beneath the grass, as the synthetic surface will be used for NFL games in the stadium. The turf damage of an NFL game has long been the stumbling block to holding American football games in EPL stadiums, but this design solution will alleviate that concern.
Tottenham also plans to install locker room and press facilities specifically geared for NFL teams, and designed the seating bowl to facilitate sightlines for both sports.
The economic impact of the games on the local area, and London in general, are massive. The club estimates that the NFL games will bring in $17 million dollars per year to the local area, and nearly $60 million dollars to the London economy in each year of the contract.
“We have an opportunity now to deliver one of the most unique sports, leisure and entertainment venues in the world, bringing together the EPL and NFL for the first time,” said Daniel Levy, Tottenham Chairmen. “The socio-economic benefits this will bring to the area will be immense and demonstrates our commitment to the regeneration of this priority borough in London.”
“With growing enthusiasm for the NFL in the United Kingdom, we are committed to hosting NFL games in world-class venues and are excited to partner with Tottenham Hotspur to play games at their future stadium,” said NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. “We share a vision and commitment to creating the best experience for our teams, fans and the local community.”
The stadium, and the agreement between the NFL and Tottenham, signifies yet another positive development in the global expansion of football, as well as the potentially lucrative relationship between soccer and football. The crossover of the two forms of football in Tottenham’s new stadium is yet another example of the globalization of sports. In this case, the future of global sports collaboration is in the stadium’s design.