For the 2016 NFL London games, the NFLUK people came up with the idea of something called NFL House – I wrote about it in my LA Rams/NY Giants weekend write-up – which I quite liked once we’d found it and realised we were actually allowed to attend (usual bad information-giving by NFLUK was to blame in my opinion). This year they’ve decided to knock that on the head and instead are putting on more of their NFL UK Live roadshow events.
These events are, basically, where we fans sit in a room and Neil Reynolds of Sky Sports (and many other NFL-related outlets it seems) on stage with guests from the NFL, whether they be GM’s, coaches or past players (it’s usually the latter and certainly is for these next two events).
The ones I’ve been to in the past in Leicester and Nottingham have gone on for about two hours and this seems about right to me. These London events on the eve of the games are scheduled for three hours so I’d bring a cushion for your chair if I were you. I went to the one at the Landmark Hotel, Marylebone on the eve of the Ravens/Jaguars game with a friend who’s only a bit into the game and I felt guilty for dragging him along as he looked bored after a while, as did the woman next to him who looked like she was falling asleep on he partners shoulder (I assume he’d dragged her along as well).
I suppose what I’m getting at is that these things could be considered to be just for the dedicated NFL fan as opposed to someone who has only a passing interest. They are events where you sit there for a few hours listening to ex-players and coaches talk about themselves and how wonderful it is that the game is growing so well in the UK. Some of the stories they tell are great but the marketing spiel they kick out about the game in the UK and where it’s going has a same-old-same-old feel to it. Don’t get me wrong, I’d absolutely love to have a franchise over here in the UK but when these guys are asked about it they all say it’s going to happen but they seem a bit scripted and not 100% believing what they’re saying – maybe it’s just me and my pessimistic ways.
Anyway, I’m banging on again. This was supposed to be a quick post with details about the events that are being put on before the two Twickenham games.
Event details are as follows:
Saturday 21st October
(day before the LA Rams v Arizona Cardinals game)
The Mermaid Theatre
Time: 1pm – 4pm
Saturday 28th October
(day before the Cleveland Browns v Minnesota Viking game)
The Landmark Hotel
222 Marylebone Road
Time: 1pm – 4pm
Cardinals @ Rams NFL UK Live Event
This event is being held at the Mermaid Theatre, Puddle Dock from 1pm to 4pm on Saturday 21st October. I can’t give any insight into this venue as, unlike the Landmark Hotel, I’ve never been. I can, however, supply a zoomable map that shows its location as being right in the centre of the city with the nearest tube/train station being Blackfriars. This tube station is on the Circle and District lines (click on it on the map and it will show you).
The Mermaid Theatre
Guests appearing at this event are ex-players of the teams that will be playing the following day at Twickenham, the LA Rams and Arizona Cardinals.
Representing the LA Rams there will be the absolute legend that is Eric Dickerson and Torry Holt whilst representing the Arizona Cardinals there will be Aeneas Williams and Adrian Wilson.
Vikings @ Browns NFL UK Live Event
This event will be held at the Landmark Hotel which is directly opposite the main entrance to the Marylebone train/tube station. The Marylebone station is, therefore, the obvious choice to use to get to this event, although Edgware Road and Baker Street aren’t too far away either.
The Landmark Hotel
The main entrance to the hotel is on the side of the A501 (as per the above map) but when I went to the recent NFL UK Live event held there we had to enter the building via a fire escape at the top-left corner of the building (as you look at the map), at the corner of Melcombe Place and Harewood Avenue. Whether this will be the same for this event is anyone’s guess but I get the impression the hotel sees itself as being a bit posh and the last thing they want is a load of NFL jersey-wearing people traipsing through their lobby.
My favourite thing about this location for the venue is the fact that the Sports Bar and Grill is directly opposite that corner of the hotel so you can pop in there before and after the event for a beer and some food whilst watching a bit of sport on one of their many TV’s (it’s the knife and fork logo on the map).
As with the other event, this one will be attended by ex-players of the teams that will be playing at Twickenham Stadium the following day, the Vikings and the Browns.
Representing the Vikings we have Chris Doleman and John Randle whilst for the Browns, we have Hanford Dixon and Josh Cribbs.
On the subject of the Landmark Hotel setting, I will say that the room it’s held in is quite long so if you’re planning on getting some good photos on your phone, I’d either get in their early to grab a seat at the front or buy yourself a good lens for the camera on it. Bear in mind that the event is a three-hour affair with a break at about the two-hour mark so you’ll be sitting for a long time if you get in there really early, though.
Also, at the event I went to at the Landmark, the guests came in from the back of the room and walked down the centre aisle so, again, if you’re looking for some good pictures you might want to try getting an aisle seat. Bear in mind that the lighting is a bit dark and the guests are moving so you might want to get a camera app that allows you to play with apertures and other camera-type stuff to compensate for the bad lighting in there away from the stage.
On the subject of the stage, I found it to be at a very annoying height. By this I mean it was way too low and it was difficult to see through the people sitting in front of me to get a look at what was going on up front with the guests. I’m 6’4″ and struggled and I was just over halfway back so I’m sure it was worse the further back you were. Don’t get me wrong, you can see the stage but you have to lean one way or the other and as soon as one person in front shifts position it sets off a wave as everyone behind them has to do the same.
They had TV screens down both sides of the room that showed the odd bit of footage relating to what they were talking about but I feel they should have used them to show those towards the back what was going on on stage.
Tickets and Things to Know
Tickets for these events are the usual £7, of which £6 goes to charity, which is Sport Relief this year, and £1 is a booking fee.
In an attempt to cut down on the resale of the tickets, NFLUK says that the lead booker of the tickets must attend and there’s a maximum of two tickets per transaction. I’ll be honest here and say that I’ve never been subjected to any checks to determine if I or the person I’m with was the lead booker of the tickets as all they do is scan the barcode and let you in.
They are saying that their clear bag policy is in effect at these events as it is at the games so please be aware of that. I just hope they uphold their policy better at these and the Twickenham games than they have done at Wembley as I’ve seen people in there with non-clear rucksacks, which was rather annoying in today’s climate of terrorism and the constant bumf we get from the NFL.
The NFLUK’s information on these events states that there will also be “additional on-stage appearances from special guests”, which I translate to mean that they might have other guests if they can grab anyone willing to do it closer to the day.
The tickets for both events are available through the Ticketmaster website and will be sold on a first-come-first-served basis so, if you’re interested, I’d get in quick as these things do usually sellout and at £7 a ticket, I’m not at all surprised!