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The Score - Anthony Schoettle

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Sports Business

London trip to cost Colts hundreds of thousands of dollars

December 9, 2015
KEYWORDS Sports Business

It’s never too early to start planning a trip overseas.

Just two weeks after the NFL announced the Indianapolis Colts will play in London next fall, team officials have already starting plotting their sojourn.

Almost nine months in advance of the game, Jeff Brown, the team’s director of operations for football operations, has been assigned to handle logistics for the trip.

Brown’s job will be a massive one and the trip will come at considerable expense to the team and league.

Planning actually began before NFL officials announced the Colts would play the Jacksonville Jaguars in Wembley Stadium on Oct. 2, 2016.

Colts Chief Operating Officer Pete Ward and the team’s vice chairwoman, Carlie Irsay-Gordon, last year went to London to scout an NFL game featuring the Dallas Cowboys and Jacksonville Jaguars.

“We knew we were being considered for a game in London and we wanted to see what it was like,” Ward told IBJ.

League officials estimate it will cost the Colts several hundred thousand more dollars to travel to London than it would a typical away game played in the U.S.

“It’s certainly going to cost more for air travel because it’s farther and for hotel rooms because most teams go early to accommodate for jet lag,” Ward said. “In addition to the more expensive air travel, we’re going to need buses every day.”

Though Ward and NFL officials wouldn’t elaborate, the league will cover part of the team’s expenses to travel and play overseas.

Most NFL teams take between 215 and 250 people with them when traveling to Europe. The cost to fly the team’s entourage to London could cost more than $250,000.

Logistics is a monumental task, with the NFL arranging to have a ship take over a host of items for the teams during the late summer. All the teams playing in London in 2016 will have items packed on the ship.

The N.Y. Jets this summer packed 5,000 items—everything from cereal and extension cords to gauze pads and wrist bands—for their game in London, the New York Times reported. The Jets even packed 350 rolls of toilet paper because the kind used in London is thinner than what their players are used to.

The Colts will solicit advice from other teams that have played a regular season game in London, Ward said.

The game will be considered a home game for Jacksonville and the ticket distribution, Ward said, will be the same as it is for a normal game, with Jacksonville as the home team getting 66 percent of ticket revenue and the Colts getting 34 percent.

The 90,000-seat Wembley Stadium often sells out for NFL games. Ward expects to see a lot of Colts blue.

“When we went over for our scout trip, we saw a lot of Colts jerseys,” Ward said. “We saw a lot of jerseys from different teams, but we saw a lot more Colts jerseys than a lot of other teams. I think people there because of our long-term success have gotten a chance to see and get to know the team.

“I think we’re a good choice for this game,” Ward added. “Some of our players like Andrew Luck and [German-native] Bjorne Werner have a good following in Europe. It’s good for our brand, so we’re happy to participate.”

Luck, who lived for a time in Europe, has already imported his brand of humor to London in this tea time video.


 

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