The NFL has injected some all-American razzmatazz into the UK sporting calendar, and the hospitality offering is just as exciting

Words: Russell Cook   Photos: UEFA/Do & co 2015

NFL hospitality American revolution - credit uefa do and co 2015

On one side of the Atlantic, it’s known as ‘America’s game’. For good reason too: 70% of US households tuned into the Super Bowl in February this year. On this side of the pond, for a long time you would’ve been more likely to hear American football described as ‘chess on grass’.

But which annual chess match is it that serves up history-defying wins, forges lantern-jawed heroes like Tom Brady and flies in Lady Gaga just for a bit of half-time entertainment?

That’s right. And more and more of us over here have cottoned on. Since 2007, when the National Football League (NFL) started bringing the world’s best players to the UK for crucial fixtures, American football’s popularity has rocketed.

Sky Sports pundit Neil Reynolds has been involved with the sport for over 20 years and seen it go from a ‘secret club’ (in the UK) to where it is today. ‘It’s truly competitive. Eight of the last 10 Super Bowl winners – the NFL’s World Cup final, if you will – have been different teams. You don’t get that anywhere else.’ 

Whichever team you decide to get behind, you’ll always have hope. Even better, ‘You don’t need to understand all the elements to enjoy it,’ says Reynolds. ‘It’s grounded in simple roots: move the ball down the field until you reach the opponent’s end zone, while they try to stop you. You pick the rest up as you go.’

That’s exactly what happened for London-born Jay Ajayi, who remembers growing up ‘knowing nothing about American football’. In October this year, he will glide across Wembley’s hallowed turf as the star running back of the Miami Dolphins. 

Come autumn, four regular-season games will be contested in London – the most in a single year so far. Alistair Kirkwood, MD of NFL UK, is pretty excited: ‘Of all major sports, the NFL has the lowest number of games in a season, yet four of those vitally important fixtures will be played here. That’s a really big deal.’

This helps to explain why hospitality packages are highly sought after. Each match is a big deal to everyone taking part – these are not merely exhibitions. For some, a career-defining shot at the Super Bowl could be at stake.

NFL hospitality American revolution - credit uefa do and co 2015

But it’s not just the sporting action that will attract full houses to Wembley and Twickenham this year. There’s a special sense of occasion too. ‘Unlike indigenous sports,’ says Kirkwood, ‘the NFL has the licence to combine the sporting action with entertainment, so we bring in teams who work on the Super Bowl and they deliver everything to that kind of level.’ 

NFL International’s hospitality and box consultant, Simon Gillespie, is on the same page. ‘From the tailgate party to the anthem singing and cheerleader performances, there’s a lot going on.’ But there are also plenty of breaks, which means the game is well set up for group entertaining. ‘You can be invested in it, but you don’t have to be utterly consumed by it.’ 

Four games might be a new record this year, but it probably won’t stand for long. The NFL recently struck a 10-year deal with Tottenham Hotspur for the football (soccer!) club to host two NFL games a season at its new stadium from 2018.

‘We are striving to make the stadium the most technologically advanced around,’ Tottenham executive director Donna-Maria Cullen tells us. ‘It’ll feature wireless connectivity throughout and the country’s first retractable pitch, with a grass option for the football, and an artificial field for the NFL.’

Among its hospitality options, The Tunnel Club – ‘the first of its kind’ – will give guests a view of the players before they walk onto the pitch.

With such world-class facilities coming online, it’s no surprise there’s talk that one of the NFL’s 32 teams might decamp to the UK permanently.

Beyond American football, there are others too who now see possibility on these shores. The National Basketball Association (NBA) already sends one game a season here and there have been clear expressions of interest from Major League Baseball too.

The American invasion has begun, and we suggest you and your group take advantage of it. 


NFL hospitality American revolution - credit uefa do and co 2015


24 SEPTEMBER: Baltimore Ravens v Jacksonville Jaguars

1 OCTOBER: New Orleans Saints v Miami Dolphins

As well as pre-game food and drinks, packages include:

Platinum (from £699pp): seats on 50-yard line, private table for 2+ guests, DJ, analysis from NFL expert

Diamond (from £479pp): seats near 50-yard line, private table for 4+ guests, live band, expert Q&A

Sapphire (from £359pp): seats close to 50-yard line, private table for 8+ guests


Executive Boxes (from £638pp) for groups of 8, 12 and 20 guests

Pitch View Suites (from £399pp) for groups of between 125 and 150 people

NFL hospitality American revolution - credit uefa do and co 2015


22 OCTOBER: Arizona Cardinals v Los Angeles Rams

29 OCTOBER: Minnesota Vikings v Cleveland Browns

As well as pre-game food and drinks, packages include:

Diamond (from £437pp): seats either side of 50-yard line, private table for 10+ guests, live band, expert Q&A

Sapphire (from £330pp): seats near 50-yard line, private table for 10+ guests


Exclusive private boxes (from £479pp) for groups of between 8 and 26 guests

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This article was first published in Squaremeal Venues + Events, Spring/Summer 2017