January 31, 2018 - 6:37 pm
MINNEAPOLIS — Mark Waller understands the frustration.
This fall, the Raiders will play a home game thousands of miles from their home stadium. It won’t be the first or last time. NFL owners approved in 2014 a resolution that — in part — requires any club engaged in relocation to export one of its eight regular-season home games to an international venue each year until the relocation process is complete.
Waller, as the NFL’s executive vice president of international, was the proposal’s architect.
On Wednesday, he explained his design.
The Raiders will host the Seattle Seahawks on Oct. 14 at the new Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London. This marks the fourth time in five years the franchise was scheduled an international “home” game. Another such scenario is assured in 2019, although Waller said that it has yet to be determined where the Raiders will play. Mexico City or London are the most likely destinations.
International involvement is a quid pro quo.
“When we wrote that resolution, we also included that any team that wins a Super Bowl bid also gives up a home game” within five years of the bid’s award, Waller said. “So Atlanta will give up a home game. Tampa will give up a home game … It was (a) way of saying, ‘As part of being in the great opportunities of growth within the league, there’s also a support and obligation to help growth elsewhere.’
“So if you’re going to be going through a relocation process and getting the support of all 31 other owners for that growth opportunity, you also will help grow areas that are a priority to the league. It was not a problematic conversation for any of the teams in terms of, ‘Oh, that’s not a reasonable trade-off.’ I think there was a general understanding that …there are things that are required that will help the broader league priorities and agenda, and this was one of them.”
The Los Angeles Chargers and Rams are engaged in the relocation process, too. Like the Raiders’ project in Las Vegas, their shared stadium is not scheduled to be ready until 2020.
The Rams will host the Kansas City Chiefs in Mexico City this season, commissioner Roger Goodell announced at a Wednesday news conference. The Chargers will host the Tennessee Titans in London this October. Rounding out the international slate for 2018, the Jacksonville Jaguars will host the Philadelphia Eagles in London.
The Chargers and Rams already have moved to their new market via a temporary stadium. For Raiders fans, an international home game carries greater meaning, given the franchise has a finite number of home games remaining in its current geographic region.
”We understand that it’s disappointing,” Waller said. “We hope ultimately that fans understand it’s a trade-off that’s required, as we want fans around the world to see the great things that fans here see.”
Said Goodell: “The Raiders are an attractive team globally. We know … how passionate the fans are there in Oakland. We want to deliver that as much as possible, but we also want to continue to expand our games.”