NFL games in Britain OK'd through '16

Updated: October 11, 2011, 8:11 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

HOUSTON -- The NFL will play regular-season games in Britain through 2016.

Team owners approved a resolution Tuesday at their fall meetings, with the number of games per year potentially increasing. No venues, dates or teams have been decided, but commissioner Roger Goodell said there could be more than one game there next season.

Teams can volunteer to play at least one regular-season home game per year in Britain for up to five years. Goodell said several teams have expressed interest and there are financial incentives for hosting games overseas. Visiting teams can play abroad only once in five years.

"When the initial resolution was approved in 2006, the thinking at the time was that we would have two new teams every year," NFL vice president of international Chris Parsons said. "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."

Tampa Bay will host Chicago on Oct. 23 in London, the fifth straight year the NFL has held an October game there. The Buccaneers will be making their second London appearance in three years; they lost to New England 35-7 in 2009.

Several teams that struggle to sell out home games, such as the Jaguars, Raiders, Bengals and Chargers, could be in line for more frequent trips overseas.

"We are very pleased with the reception to the game and the way our business has grown over there," Goodell said. "Can it be sustained for multiple games?

"Part of our discussion today was should we have some consistency among teams going over there? It can help build a strong fan base for a specific team. We may focus a little more on a smaller number of teams. There are a number of teams that are interested in doing it."

Because of London's ideal location as a travel hub, many owners are more inclined to keeping the regular-season game or games at Wembley Stadium. But they did discuss Birmingham, England, and other locations, even Germany.

Goodell said there is sentiment for playing two regular-season games in Britain close to each other, perhaps within two or three weeks of each other. But there's also support for spreading them out.

Information from The Associated Press contributed to this report.