ARLINGTON (CBSDFW.COM) — The Dallas Cowboys’ 2014 schedule is already taking shape and will feature a regular-season visit to London.
The NFL on Thursday made official its trio of London-based games for next season: The Dolphins will play the Raiders, the Lions will play the Falcons, and the Cowboys – who have made two previous trips to England for the American Bowl preseason series – will play Jacksonville.
“We would never play a home game in London, at all,” Cowboys owner Jerry Jones recently said on 105.3 The Fan. “All of our home games are too important to us. You have to have a situation where somebody’s willing to be the home team, which gives up a game at their home…That’s possible.”
And now it’s done.
The last time the Dallas Cowboys played in London was 1993.
They were defending Super Bowl champions with an all-star team featuring Troy Aikman, Emmitt Smith, Michael Irvin, and Darryl Johnston.
Now, after all this time, the Cowboys will return to London next year — not for a pre-season game as they played 20 years ago, but a regular season matchup against the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Cowboys Head Coach Jason Garrett said Thursday, “It’s pretty exciting – Obviously, the NFL is trying to get a presence over there – worldwide appeal – no better place than London. It’s Wembley stadium for crying out loud – one of the great venues.”
Beginning with the 2007 season, the NFL has staged regular-season games at Wembley Stadium. That will be the site for the 2014 Cowboys road game, part of a schedule that includes:
- The three sets of home-and-away games with NFC East foes Washington, New York and Philadelphia.
- The home games at AT&T Stadium against Arizona, Houston, Indianapolis, San Francisco and an NFC South team that coordinates with where Dallas falls in its division.
- The road games featuring trips to St. Louis, Seattle, Tennessee, an NFC North team (based on divisional finish) and the away game “at Jacksonville’’ – which is now way away in London.
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell says fan interest in the NFL has grown to over 12 million in the UK, including 2.5 million ‘avid’ fans. Sunday television ratings have also spiked, up 100 percent since 2006.
“Our fans in the UK continue to demonstrate their passion for more football,” Goodell said. “Next year for the first time we will play three regular-season games in London. We have scheduled three attractive games with four teams playing in their first International Series game. The growing enthusiasm for the NFL internationally is exciting and we look forward to continuing to respond to this interest in our game.”
Erin Patton, an adjunct professor of sports marketing at TCU says crossing the pond will ultimately prove to be an economic touchdown for the Cowboys. “I think anything the Cowboys do is big relative to sports marketing. I think the longer term impact for the Cowboys is they also have a globalization strategy around their brand. Clearly, this enhances their chance to grow their fan base.”
NFL fans in London love it. This year, they’ll get to watch two regular season games. Next year, there will be a total of three.
Patton says, score one for the fans, the Cowboys, and the NFL.
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