The NFL announced Friday that the Rams will play the Patriots at Wembley Stadium on Oct. 28, the first of three consecutive seasons in which St. Louis will host a regular-season game in the United Kingdom.
With the announcement, the Rams have become the first NFL team to commit to play regular-season games abroad on an annual basis. They will play one regular-season home game in the U.K. in 2012, ’13 and ’14.
"The response to NFL games in the U.K. among our British fans has been exceptional," commissioner Roger Goodell said. "We are confident that having the Rams host one game in the U.K. in each of the next three seasons will allow us to better serve the growing popularity of our sport beyond the borders of the United States."
NFL owners had approved a resolution on Oct. 11, 2011 that authorized the league to schedule regular-season games in the U.K. in each of the next five seasons, including to determine the number of games per season, the venue and the competing teams. All clubs were permitted to volunteer to play at least one regular-season game per year as a home team in the U.K. on an annual basis for up to five years, and the Rams' proposal was selected.
"This is a tremendous honor for our franchise, the city of St. Louis and our fans throughout the world," Rams owner Stan Kroenke said. "We are excited about the opportunity to reach new audiences globally. This is a great platform to showcase the city of St. Louis to London and the UK.
"We've seen first-hand the increased popularity of the NFL not only in London but throughout Europe. To play a role in that growth over the next three years will be incredible and is a testament to the many good things happening not only in the NFL but also in the St. Louis Rams organization."
The Rams' opponent in the 2012 game at Wembley Stadium is the Patriots, who defeated the Buccaneers in London in ’09.
"We are honored to be selected for this year's game and eager to return," Patriots chairman/CEO Robert Kraft said. "We had such a great experience during our last visit to London. We are proud to have great support from our fans when we are on the road. The United Kingdom is home to some of our most passionate Patriots fans, including the UKPatriots, who are among our most active fan clubs overall, not just overseas. We look forward to another memorable experience."
The international series of regular-season games to date has contributed to increased NFL fan interest in the U.K., with a current fan base of 11 million, including more than two million avid fans, a 32 percent increase in the past two years.
The game between the Rams and Patriots at Wembley Stadium will be the only NFL contest in the U.K. next season.