As the news filtered through that the Buccaneers – Redskins game may be blacked out locally, and as we approach the latest International Series game at Wembley Stadium, my question is whether the Bucs’ appearance at Wembley is related to their inability to sell out their home games, and are the “volunteer” home teams just the ones that struggle to sell out? If the Redskins participate, will they be the home team and what do the fans think of the prospect of losing a home game?
This year will be the sixth in the series at our national stadium and with rumours that there will be two games a year, it must be only a matter of time until we see the burgundy and gold performing on the hallowed turf.
Do teams really want to travel toEnglandto play a game though? We read the press reports and see the video interviews of players, officials, coaches towing the party line, saying the right thing, about what an opportunity it is, seeing the sights of England etc, but how genuine are these “opinions”.
Perhaps more importantly, what do the fans think of their team losing a home game to travel to theUK?
My football team, the Colchester Gladiators, hosts an NFL-style tailgate party entitled “The Great British Tailgate Party” every year at the Green Man Hotel, about five minutes walk from the stadium. Colchester is about 70 miles east of the Wembley but our then management team wanted to bring a British twist to an American institution as at the time, there wasn’t anything planned at the stadium on game day and tailgating was not going to be permitted. We searched for the nearest and most suitable venue, and fortunately the management of the Green Man was open to our suggestions and trusted us to provide a venue that would prove to be popular with a friendly atmosphere where fans of from all NFL teams and the British National league teams could mingle, eat, drink, and exchange football talk.
So after months of preparation, the original GBTP was born, offering music, DJ, merchandise, cheerleaders, barbeque and of course several well staffed bars and plenty of alcohol. This was provided absolutely free to fans of the game of all nationalities and it was great to see a rainbow of NFL, NFL Europe and British team shirts.
GBTP now extends over two days; Saturday night usually features the now infamous “Snail Racing” with the main feature all day Sunday. If anyone wants further details, log on to www.gbtp.co.uk.
But the question remains. When will the Redskins come over and will they be the home team or visitors? When the NFL first appeared regularly on television in the UK in the early 80’s, the Redskins were probably the best supported team and are probably still in the top five. With a strong following, ticket sales for a game featuring the team from DC are sure to sell out.
But what do Redskins fans think of losing a home game. Would they be happy with a “one off” or would they only want to see their team appear in the series as the visitors. I’d like some feedback from the readers of Riggo’ Rag and I hope to get further comments from other fan sites.
What do fans from the teams that have been through it think? I’ve been on some fansites of these teams and have asked for their opinions to find out their views. In part two, I’ll share some opinions with our readers on Riggo’s Rag.