“We believe that it’s a unique branding opportunity for the (GWCCA) as well as for the Falcons, state and city,” Poe said of the Falcons’ trip to London. Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal and Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed, in separate statements, expressed their approval.
The trip will mark the first time in franchise history that the Falcons have played a regular-season game outside North America. (They will play their first regular-season game outside the U.S. on Dec. 1, when they face the Buffalo Bills in Toronto.) The Falcons played exhibition games in Tokyo in 2000 and 2005.
“We are excited and honored to serve as ambassadors for our city, our state and the (NFL),” Falcons owner Arthur Blank said. “Playing in London will provide tremendous exposure to our team, as well as provide the opportunity to showcase the great international city of Atlanta.”
The NFL’s most recent game in London — Minnesota’s 34-27 win over Pittsburgh on Sept. 29 — drew a capacity crowd of 83,518. This season’s second game in London, Jacksonville vs. San Francisco on Oct. 27, also has sold out. The Jaguars have committed to play one home game in London each season through 2016.
TV viewership of NFL games has almost doubled in the United Kingdom since the start of the league’s “International Series” games there in 2007, according to the league.
“By playing two games in the UK this year, we are creating more fans,” Goodell said. “We hope that with three games in London next year we will attract even more people to our game.”
Poe told the GWCCA board that issues such as how the loss of one Georgia Dome game affects season-ticket holders, suite holders and corporate sponsors will be “managed jointly with the Falcons as we approach the 2014 season.”
Also in Tuesday’s meeting, conducted by conference call, the GWCCA board voted unanimously to formally approve the purchase of Mount Vernon Baptist Church’s property on the site of the future Falcons stadium just south of the Georgia Dome. Out of a purchase price of $14.5 million, the GWCCA will pay $6.2 million — the property’s appraised value — and the Falcons will pay $8.3 million.