Blue Badge Tourist Guides often have to take sporting parties around during the course of their work. Visiting cricket and rugby teams bring groups of supporters with them while golfing tours are a mainstay of the industry. American football has now arrived in the capital with the National Football League playing four matches in the NFL London games series. Every NFL team apart from the Green Bay Packers has now played at least one competitive game in London.
While British eyes are looking towards Japan, where the Rugby World Cup is being played American football is winning fans at the new stadium of Tottenham Hotspur, the team known to fans simply as Spurs. The club’s stadium was opened in April 2019 and has not yet been officially named as naming rights are still for sale. It is a cashless, state of the art venue where the grass pitch on which Spurs play can be lifted up to reveal a synthetic surface used by the American football teams. The venue was designed by the firm Populous, who were also responsible for the London Olympic Stadium. It cost a billion pounds to construct and the club’s chairman Daniel Levy is inviting NFL teams to play there to recoup some of the cost. Recently the Chicago Bears beat the Oakland Raiders 24-21 in the first match, which attracted a crowd of 60,464, the largest one to watch a game there.
Many Blue Badge Tourist Guides were needed both before and after the game to ferry groups of players, fans, cheerleaders and support staff to and from the match. Drivers and guides were given strict instructions to stick to the prescribed routes, which had been checked by professional security staff, and all vehicles entering the grounds were checked by sniffer dogs trained to detect explosive materials. Guides were also told not to disturb or photograph the players. Nothing was left to chance and the game was a sell-out success, helping to introduce a new type of football to Londoners while bringing a little bit of American sporting culture to Britain.
Find out more about NFL games in London at NFL.com/uk.