While most of the attention was focused on the field as the NFL Academy held their final trials at the new Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London last week, those in attendance could not helped but be impressed by the facilities surrounding them.
With the stadium set to the same configuration that fans will note when the league hosts their first ever game there in October, it was clear for all to see that the venue had been created with the NFL very much in mind. Designed by well known global architectural firm Populous, a company previously known as HOK sports and the designer of several other stadiums around the league such a Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, New Era Field in Buffalo and State Farm Stadium in Arizona among others, this latest project rivals them all.
A capacity of 62,062 is very much in line with several NFL stadiums, and while the venue may not offer the league the capacity of Wembley Stadium (90,000), the enhanced experience it will provide both fans and teams alike cannot be overstated.
When touring the facilities on Tuesday, perhaps the most striking difference from the other stadiums in the U.K. the league has played at is the size of the locker room facilities built expressly to accomodate an NFL team.
Needing far more space than either soccer or rugby teams, the new stadium features a locker room far larger than anything else the country has to offer. No longer will the league be forced to knock down walls or repurpose office space like they have done at Twickenham Stadium or Wembley just to fit in all the players. Treatment rooms are of a scale that teams like the Oakland Raiders could only dream of at their own facilities.
Once the players take the field, they will find a surface identical to many around the NFL. A field laid underneath the world’s first dividing retractable soccer pitch that will be used by Tottenham Hotspur for their games.
And with the stadium also designed with the fan experience in mind, it is claimed that every seat will offer uninterrupted sightlines. Putting spectators closer to the field than any other stadium in the country, the stands have been made as steep possible under U.K. laws.
Costing close to $1 billion, this new home of the NFL has already met with the approval of the players who toured it this week, and it is sure to make the trip overseas a lot more bearable for teams in the future. Travelling media members will also enjoy the extra facilities that have been added to accommodate the large press corp that covers the NFL when they are in London.
Sadly for Pittsburgh Steelers fans in the U.K., the Black and Gold will not be among the visitors this year, and having last been to London in 2013, they are unlikely to be on the schedule anytime soon. But when they do next make the trip, Pittsburgh fans back home can rest assured they will be taken very good care of at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.