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Tuesday, February 21, 2012
Will Rams regret playing London games?

By Mike Sando
ESPN.com

St. Louis Rams ticket holders cringed when the NFL announced plans to move one home game in 2012, 2013 and 2014 to London.

The St. Louis Convention and Visitors Center (CVC) wasn't happy about it, either.

The team and CVC reached agreement Tuesday to move one 2012 home game to London, according to the St. Louis Business Journal.

It remains unclear what will happen in 2013 and 2014, but moving any home games is a short-term loser for fans and the football operations staff. There are no short-term, on-the-field advantages to adding such a clear disruption to the schedule.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers played 2009 and 2011 home games in London. Like the Rams, their ownership also had strong ties to London through soccer. Like the Rams, the Bucs had some challenges selling out home games. Like the Rams, they said they wanted to build a global following.

The Bucs subsequently asked the league to remove them from the London rotation.

In 2011, the Bucs improved to 4-2 with a victory over New Orleans. They then lost to Chicago in London, the first of 10 consecutive defeats to end the season. Playing overseas did not cause the losing streak, of course, but teams needing every on-field edge they can get generally would be better off playing a conventional schedule.

Playing in London also can play into public perceptions about a team's plans for relocation.

How badly will the Rams want to play those 2014 and 2015 games in London?