This past season, Jaguars owner Shad Khan committed to having a Jaguars “home” game played in London over each of the next four years.
While some fans see the London experiment as taking away a home game, in the grand scheme of all things NFL, this is actually a great move by the forward thinking Khan to build the brand of the Jaguars while also selling the city of Jacksonville to a worldwide audience.
“We want to be the kind of franchise players want to belong to, sponsors want to be part of, and Jacksonville is proud of. … The key point is to sell Jacksonville to the world. We are a well-kept secret, but after today, that’s not going to be the case” said Khan after the London announcement was made.
While traditionally thought of a Southern town, Jacksonville has an assortment of entertainment such as world-class golf courses and top rated beaches. Thus making it an easy sell to world-wide travelers looking to do business in a city that’s more cost-effective than Orlando or Miami. And it’s Khan’s hope that these same travelers stay to catch a NFL game while in town.
For a team that’s nationally ranked dead last in popularity (according to Forbes), as a NFL city, Jacksonville could certainly use the exposure the London game will give us.
Khan added“We’re going to have more fans. We’re going to have more exposure. We’re going to have more sponsors we wouldn’t otherwise. That’s absolutely key, having a bigger market to attract more sponsors. Obviously, you want to win football games, but (a team’s mission) is also to have a sustainable business and to provide economic growth, to be a civic asset.”
And this plan already seems to be working. Shortly after the announcement, Khan himself attempted to purchase Jaguars gear at a London NFL store but was unsuccessful due to it being the only team merchandise sold out.
While it’s not ideal that over the next four years we’ll have one less of a home game to be able to circle up with our friends and dance at the drumline. But what would be ideal is if we brought some of these traditions to London…
Try to imagine: sitting in Wembley stadium, watching whoever the hell is at QB throw all day to Cecil Shorts and Justin Blackmon with a healthy Jones-Drew in the backfield. And when the Jaguars score, you get to yell DUUVAALL to all the surrounding Londoners who were foolish enough to believe the Jags don’t have passionate fans.
Sounds exciting right? Of course it does.
So before you think you can’t afford it or you wouldn’t know where to start as far as planning, fear not. Because we’ve got it all handled for you.
- For any travel out of the country, you’re going to need a passport. If you already have a Passport, make sure it’s up to date with accurate information and hasn’t expired. If you don’t have a Passport yet, look up your nearest US Post Office that has a Passport office located inside of it. Getting your passport does take some time so be sure to do this as early as possible, otherwise, you’re going to be paying additional fees to rush your order.
- The flight is easily going to be the most expensive part of this trip. If you want to book your flight in the traditional method, travel sites usually suggest to wait until Tuesday afternoon to book plane tickets 4-8 weeks prior to your destination.
- For those who prefer to book traditional flight bookings, an average flight from Jacksonville to London is going to cost you around $1100 via Delta. But by setting up flight alerts via websites like FareCompare and Trip Advisor, you can receive automatic emails anytime there is flight sale. As a bonus, be sure to add London via Orlando as sometimes they have cheaper (and direct!) flights to Heathrow and London Gatwick.
- If you want to take this London game as an opportunity to go all out, you might want to consider driving to Orlando and flying out on Virgin Airlines. The price is very comparable to other providers but Virgin Airlines is known for their comfort and amenities. And when you are traveling across the pond, a little bit of comfort goes a long way.
- The area around Wembley is regarded as “not the friendliest” when it comes to hotels but there are decent options for around $150 a night if you’re only staying in town for the game.
- If you’re doing a little sight-seeing while in London, staying in the Surrey area of Richmond/Kingston/Weybridge is ideal as they have affordable accommodations and the location to the tube (train) is easily accessible.
WATCHING THE GAME
Fair warning, this game will sell out. And it will sell out as the Vikings/Steelers game in London scheduled for the 29th already has already done so. So once you make the decision to go to London, it would be wise to buy your game ticket first and foremost.
Besides the all-inclusive packages the Jaguars sent out weeks ago, you can find the same lower bowl tickets on the NFL UK site for about $100 a piece as well as reasonably priced hospitality packages that include food/drinks via Ticketmaster UK.
If the game ends up selling out and you can’t score a ticket, plenty of bars around Wembley will be happy to entertain you and will have specific viewing packages available as the game gets closer.
Added tip: Don’t think you will be able to scalp a ticket in London. While there are guys out front pretending to sell tickets to the game, most are often scam artists looking to take advantage of unknowing tourists.
Buy an Oyster Card
An Oyster Card is your savior for paying for mass transit in London. It works as a prepaid card and can be used on any train, cab or bus. Best part about the Oyster card is you can buy it ahead of time, put money on the activated card so you are ready to go as soon as you land.
Want to Drive? Don’t!
London is just like NYC in that you really don’t need to drive around too much because mass transit is so efficient. And most of what you want to do within the city of London is all within walking distance. But if you don’t want to walk to a certain destination, be sure to study the Tube map (London’s train system) to see which route will work the best for you.
- The best way to get British pounds is to just use your ATM card in a British ATM. That will give you a better rate than actually exchanging money. Be sure to call your bank first to confirm there are no hidden fees for doing this.
- Terrible at math? Download a currency converter app to figure out US Dollars (USD) to British Pounds (GBP). It’s free for both iPhone and Android users.
TIPS IF YOU GO
- When talking about the game to the people of London, call it American Football or NFL. Apparently Londoner’s don’t take too kindly of us Americans using the term “football” for our sport.
- Take advantage of smart phones when you travel! Apps like Guide Pal, Trip Advisor and Pocket Guide all have London downloadable guides filled with maps and tips that act as your own personal tour guide.
- -London weather is notorious for being terrible. Be sure to pack ponchos, towels and umbrellas and take them with you wherever you go.
- -Have coins on you at all times. Not for tipping, for using the restroom! Public restrooms are hard to come by and if one is available, you have to pay to be able to use it.
GO TO LONDON FOR LESS THAN $500? IT CAN HAPPEN
That sentence alone is hard to believe but Jax local Casey Ayers has done some serious investigative work in budgeting an entire trip to London (flight, hotel, game) for less than $500.
“What’s the catch” is probably the next thing you’re thinking. And of course there’s a catch. You have to sign up for a frequent flyer miles promotions credit card from American Airlines and use it over the next few months on regular purchases to earn the points.
Sure, you might be weary to get another credit card, but this one is specifically for travel and if you only use the card on purchases you would make already, it would save you some serious cash to do it the way Casey suggests.
-You’re in London, so you might as well take advantage of the incredible things around you. Must see landmarks around the city include The British Museum in Bloomsbury, Soho, The London Eye in South Bank and Westminster that includes Big Ben, Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey and the National Gallery. [Hint: Use the apps aforementioned to locate these places on a map, check out ticket prices or just simply to gain more insight into the places you are visiting]
-Ever been to Paris or Amsterdam? Well London has the luxury of using high speed rail service that runs from numerous cities all across Europe. And for around $100, you can purchase a roundtrip ticket on the Eurostar train that travels from London to Paris and back that only takes a little over 2 hours each way!