The St. Louis Rams will play one game of the 2012 season in London, according to the Post-Dispatch. The news is expected to be officially announced this morning on local television by Rams COO Kevin Demoff. The news confirms speculation that spread like wildfire on Thursday.
According to the report, the Rams' game in London will be one of their "home" games. That means they will play just seven games at the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis.
The game will be played in Wembley Stadium. Stan Kroenke's team will most likely be playing the New England Patriots. They are scheduled to play the AFC East during the 2012 season, and Tom Brady and the Patriots would likely be a nice draw for the league.
Asked about the rumors last night, TST was told by a source in the Rams' front office only that the London teams would be announced "sometime late in the playoffs or around Super Bowl time."
Though it was never confirmed, the speculation reached a point of critical mass last night as people began putting the context clues together. I wondered about it, assuming since the national level NFL reporters had said nothing about it that it was probably a rumor.
2012 might not be the only time the Rams play in London. An email sent to season ticket holders reportedly said that the Rams will play a game there in 2012, 2013 and 2014. A report in the UK Mirror echoed that.
Kroenke has strong ties to the UK. He owns the Arsenal of the English Premier League. As for how the UK teams get selected, the Rams told us that there has to be an expression of mutual interest by a team and the league.
This news will inevitably spark more rumors and speculation about the Rams permanently relocating to London. Ignore it; let the talk radio people yak about it. I'd be more worried about L.A. than than the logistical nightmare of the league having a team across the ocean.
Update by VT: Official Press Release (appears Rams will play in 2013 and 2014 as well):
ST. LOUIS, Mo. – The National Football League announced today that the St. Louis Rams will face the New England Patriots in London, England’s Wembley Stadium this season. The game, which is part of the NFL’s International Series, will take place on Oct. 28 at Noon CST (6 p.m. UK).
CBS will provide live television coverage of the contest. The Rams will serve as the home team for this year’s contest, and the team has reached an agreement to play a home game at Wembley Stadium in 2013 and 2014 as well.
"This is a tremendous honor for our franchise, the city of St. Louis and our fans throughout the world," said Rams owner E. Stanley Kroenke. "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 2012 season marks the sixth-consecutive year in which Wembley Stadium has played host to a regular season NFL game. The league has held one regular season game in London each year beginning in 2007.
"I’m really looking forward to the opportunity to represent the Rams and the National Football League in London," Rams QB Sam Bradford said. "I’m sure it’s going to be a very exciting atmosphere that will provide a great experience for everyone involved in the game."
The 2012 International Series contest marks the first time in team history that the Rams will play a regular season game outside of the United States.
The Rams participated in the American Bowl during the preseason three times and won all three contests: a 1987 game against the Denver Broncos at Wembley Stadium; a 1989 matchup with the San Francisco 49ers at the Tokyo Dome in Tokyo, Japan; and a 1990 contest against the Kansas City Chiefs at Berlin, Germany’s Olympiastadion.
Club seats for the Rams-Patriots game will go on sale on Jan. 25. General admission tickets to the game will be available on Feb. 2-3. In the upcoming weeks, the Rams will announce ticket opportunities and travel packages for Rams season ticket holders and fans.