MINNEAPOLIS -- When the Minnesota Vikings were first in discussions with the NFL about playing a home game in London, the team had initially talked about moving a game there in 2013, 2014 and 2015. As team vice president Lester Bagley said last fall, the deal shifted to one year once the Jacksonville Jaguars agreed to play a London home game for four straight seasons.
But now, according to the NFL Network, the league is talking about going from three London games in 2014 to four in 2015. Could the Vikings make a return to the United Kingdom in 2015? We wouldn't bet against it.
By then, the Vikings will be in their second season at the University of Minnesota's TCF Bank Stadium, and whatever adjustment period comes along with moving into a college stadium for two seasons will presumably be over. When the Vikings moved their game with the Pittsburgh Steelers to London, playing there last Sept. 29, the NFL reimbursed the team for the revenue of an average home game at the Metrodome. The team will presumably see a dip in revenues in 2014 and 2015, thanks to the stadium's smaller capacity and a rent agreement that requires the Vikings to pay the university $250,000 in rent and $50,000 in concession and advertising revenue for every home game. Especially if the NFL were to pay the Vikings what they made at the Metrodome, rather than what they'll be making at TCF Bank Stadium, it would stand to reason the Vikings would consider a return trip to London.
Bagley said last fall the Vikings would evaluate the possibility of another London game after the first trip. If owners eventually approve a fourth London game, it would double the number of games overseas from 2013 and mean a quarter of the league would be playing in England. There were people in the Vikings organization who believed last fall that the logistical hurdles would prevent the team from hosting another London game before its new stadium opens in 2016, but after the team closed a smooth trip with a win over the Steelers last Sept. 29, there weren't many complaints about the experience. And if the NFL is looking for even more willing partners by next year, the Vikings could be among the first teams on the list.