Tottenham Hotspur Stadium and 2019 NFL London Games logo

Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, London

Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. Carolina Panthers

With Halloween just around the corner, foolish parents are on the lookout to waste money on dressing their kids up for trick or treating (whilst those of us whose parents didn't instill a love of dressing up once a year and are not fun, plan for an evening of sitting in the pitch black hoping they'll not knock on our door).

Tottenham Hotspur Stadium exterior for 2019 NFL London Games
This feels awfully familiar.

Meanwhile, over in North London, Tottenham Hotspur Stadium is getting into the festive spirit by dressing up as an NFL stadium for Halloween. They're a little early, but then Christmas stuff has been in the supermarkets since September so who even cares when holidays are celebrated anymore? You do you, Tottenham.

After last week's exploits watching football at an American football stadium, it only seemed fair to do the exact opposite this weekend. It was time to watch American football in a football stadium.

Tottenham Hotspur Stadium exterior
The side of the stadium I didn't photograph last time.

I'm cheating a little bit here, since Tottenham built the stadium specifically in mind to be able to host the inevitable London Jaguars franchise two London Games a season, but I just wanted to pretend that a two part post wasn't entirely just a coincidence.

After an enjoyable experience on four legs for football, I was keen to see how the stadium would fare in its other personality. And most importantly, seeing just how much they'd hike up the beer prices. Spoiler alert, it's at least £2.50 more! You brew some of the beers walking distance from the stadium.

Large Tampa Bay Buccaneers flag covers the field at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium
World's largest pirate bedspread.

For shame Tottenham. For shame. Still, it's still cheap compared to beer at most American stadiums. But this is England and it's our right and duty to grumble and complain about everything. So with that in mind, tourists heading over to this game will experience a very British experience.

I saw a lot of Bears fans heading to Heathrow from O'Hare International Airport last week and when I arrived back into Heathrow earlier in the week, there were a lot of excited Panthers fans plodding through immigration eagerly anticipating seeing their hero, Kyle Allen, play on foreign soil (or synthetic turf).

Jameis Winston of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers prepares to drop back to pass
Jameis Winston prepares to show his first round draft pick credentials by dropping back and chucking his opening pass to a player in white. Wrong team, mate.

I wondered just what Americans must have felt to see such a stadium plonked in a terribly cramped and inappropriate area. The best news was that Transport for London had decided to keep their trolling of the public down to a minimum, or at least away from this area. No closing all the closest stations around the stadium this time. But still, it was bloody packed. Who thought it was a good idea to build a bigger stadium here and not do anything to the stations? Who cares about the public, right?

I've attended the NFL's International Series London Games (marketing, people) since their inception. That's going to one game a year back when there was just one game a year, all the way through to going to one game a year now when there are four to choose from. With attendance like that I'll be sure to go to one game a year when we get our team (before they move back to Oakland with nobody in London seeming to notice...).

Carolina Panthers run the ball out from the one yard line
Is it really necessary to stand when a team starts a drive at the one yard line?

Surprisingly, the increase in games has somehow made it harder to get tickets. Maybe that has something to do with tickets always going on sale when I have a meeting at work and I have to look like I'm listening (when in reality I've opened all the tabs in every browser trying desperately to spend hundreds of pounds on a game I don't really want to see). So interest still remains at an all-time high, which is music to the NFL's ears.

Even though the games have morphed from a Diet Super Bowl with horrible mismatches, complete with pre-game entertainment, to just looking like any game you'd see Stateside (they've finally put just the home team's logo in the endzone this year), you can always spot every jersey in the crowd and watch the games feeling some tension waiting for the inevitable Mexican wave to start.

The South Stand at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium
Finally seeing the South Stand in person is an impressive sight.

In the least surprisingly news of the decade, Tottenham Hotspur Stadium is an excellent venue for the NFL, and significantly better than Wembley. The sunken playing field means you don't even need to tarp off the first 15 rows to avoid having to stare at the back of the towel boy's head. It actually feels like a legitimate stadium to host the NFL. So if when we get a team, this should be their home. It's ready. London isn't ready though.

And if there was any takeaway from the game (and there were many for Carolina), it would be that downhearted Manchester United fans would be encouraged to see their owners continue to piss away money on mediocre talent for the other teams in their possession too. The Buccaneers's main hope of success, Jameis Winston, proved to be the Panthers best player, completing five passes to their players at key points of the game. A perfect Paul Pogba performance. Jameis not good.

Kyle Allen of the Carolina Panthers prepares to take a snap
Everyone came here to see an injured Cam Newton. Why must you play so efficiently, Kyle?

The games have tended to vary wildly in quality, going from downright terrible (any time the evil empire turns up, or the Bucs... oh crap) to mediocre (most years) with a sprinkling of "that game was amazing" thrown in for good measure (that one Saints v Chargers game in 2008 and very little else).

But there was to be no Mexican wave this time round (despite the fact the contest was crap), as I can only assume most of the ground spent the game in the concourse gawping in amazement as beer was filled from the bottom of the cup. What is this witchcraft? Was the barman some sort of wizard borrowed from The Three Broomsticks pub in Hogsmeade?

Useless information about Tottenham Hotspur Stadium

Address: 782 High Road, Tottenham, London, N17 0BX
Capacity: 62,214
Pitch Type: Artificial
Ticket Price: £75 (East Atrium)
Programme: £10, 116 pages
Cheapest Pint: £6 (hang on, this was £4 for football games!)

NFL London Games 2019 ticket

NFL London Games 2019 programme