Demand for NFL Game at Wembley High
By DAVE SKRETTA
AP Sports Writer
NEW YORK -- The grousing by some NFL fans over the first regular-season game to be played overseas might not be limited to this side of the Atlantic.
More than half a million ticket requests poured in soon after commissioner Roger Goodell announced the New York Giants would play the Miami Dolphins at the new Wembley Stadium in London.
That outpouring of interest for the Oct. 28 contest means many die-hard fans -- not to mention the curious observers the game is intended to reach -- will be stuck watching on TV.
"This is a game for Europe and a game for hardcore fans of both teams," said Alistair Kirkwood, managing director of NFL UK.
"The challenge we've got is to keep all the various stakeholders happy."
Ticket preference will go to season ticket holders and members of fan clubs, particularly in the United Kingdom. About 10,000 fans are expected to travel from the United States, only a fraction of the anticipated sellout crowd of 90,000.
Tickets go on sale in Europe on Monday and within the next week in the United States, but fewer than half will be immediately available. The rest will go on sale once team and league officials weigh the amount of interest the game generates among American fans and those abroad.
Giants co-owner Jonathan Tisch said the club has received about 3,500 requests.
"Not only has there been that response for initial tickets, when you look at our fan base that come to every game, then consider we have 120,000 people on our waiting list ... they also want to travel overseas," Tisch said.
Both teams have done research on how best to appropriate tickets, but Kirkwood admits that it comes down to "best guessing." How many tickets are ultimately available will also depend on the number purchased by a business tier of 15,000 people who have rights to purchase seats for any game played in the sparkling new stadium.
"What we're not going to have is the risk of unsold tickets out there," Kirkwood said, adding that about 2,000 will be reserved for general sale in the U.S. and Europe in September.
For those lucky enough to get a ticket, the game won't be cheap. Prices range from about $90 to $180, using a pricing structure similar to this weekend's FA Cup final between Manchester United and Chelsea.
"When I was in Miami, one of the British journalists came up to me in the dour, sour way that most of the journalists have in Britain," London Mayor Ken Livingstone said. "He said, 'Wouldn't it be humiliating if there are a bunch of empty seats?' And I said, 'I suspect that won't be the case.'"
The game, which will kick off at 6 p.m. London time -- 1 p.m. on the East Coast of the United States -- comes after Arizona beat San Francisco in Mexico City in 2005. The league hopes to play regular-season games again in Mexico, as well as Canada and other cities in Europe in an effort to expand the game globally.
To accommodate the expansion, there has been increased discussion of replacing a preseason game with a regular-season game so that each team would play in a "foreign" market once a year without sacrificing a home game.
Tisch said that's an issue likely to come up at future owners meetings.
"We're all anxiously awaiting the start of the international games," Tisch said. "There is so much interest for this game that is emerging in lands far afield from the United States of America. We could easily add more international games to add to the fan base and the excitement of the NFL."