Could Bucs be a regular in London?

October, 11, 2011
10/11/11
5:53
PM ET
There’s a very interesting quote in the NFL’s press release announcing that owners approved a resolution to continue playing regular-season games in the U.K. through 2016.

The resolution leaves it up to the league to decide if more than one regular-season game per year will be played in the U.K. The resolution also allows teams to “volunteer’’ for one home game a year in the U.K.

This year’s game will be played at Wembley Stadium. It’s a “home’’ game for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers against the Chicago Bears. The Bucs also played a home game there in 2009.

Keep all that in mind and now read the interesting quote.

“When the initial resolution was approved in 2006, the thinking at the time was that we would have two new teams every year,” said NFL International vice president Chris Parsons. “As the series evolved, we felt as though having a team return to the U.K. on a regular basis would certainly increase the fan base for that particular team, which in turn would drive fan growth for the entire league. We think there is a tremendous benefit for a team to return to the U.K. on an annual basis.”

Read that last part (“tremendous benefit for a team to return to the U.K. on an annual basis’’) again. Are you thinking what I’m thinking?

The Buccaneers could be playing an annual “home’’ game in London? Well, it’s logical in a lot of ways. Look back at that “return’’ word again. The Bucs are about to become the only team to return to London since the NFL started playing regular-season games there.

The Bucs already have had a strong fan club in the U.K. for years. The owners of the Bucs (the Glazer family) also own the Manchester United soccer team.

There’s also the matter of attendance in Tampa Bay. Prior to last week’s sellout of a “Monday Night Football’’ game against Indianapolis, the Bucs had not sold out their previous 10 regular-season home games. When accepting the trip to London this year, the Bucs said part of their reasoning was done with the local economy in mind. Team officials said one less game at Raymond James Stadium would cut the cost of paying for season tickets.

Plus, a yearly game in London would guarantee the Bucs at least one “home’’ sellout a season.

The language in the resolution about teams “volunteering’’ to play in London is very interesting. I can’t see teams with huge fan bases like the Green Bay Packers and Pittsburgh Steelers ever volunteering to give up a sure sellout at home.

But it’s pretty easy to picture the Bucs and the Jacksonville Jaguars, who also have had attendance issues, throwing their hands up when the NFL asks for volunteers.

Pat Yasinskas | email

ESPN Tampa Bay Buccaneers reporter

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