Like it or not, the NFL is coming to British shores and it’s here to stay.
It’s a belief embraced so firmly by Premier League side Tottenham that their brand new stadium was designed with two sports in mind.
There had been much anticipation over how the stadium would perform – let alone the players – in the build-up to the Oakland Raiders’ clash with the Chicago Bears.
RadioTimes.com went along to explore, and now the verdict is in.
You will spend a distracting amount of time figuring out where the standard grass turf has actually gone upon arrival for an NFL game.
Three enormous ‘trays’ that bear the Premier League pitch split away from one another and slide under the stands on three sides of the ground where they are preserved by UV lights, to make way for the artificial NFL surface.
There is no more nagging guilt as you watch over 100 muscle men tear up a pitch that is used to the more gentle pitter-patter of 22 pairs of tiny Premier League footballer feet.
Casting your eyes from land to air, the stadium roof – while it can’t fully close – is built to encase the atmosphere.
Noise reverberates up, down and all around the ground.
The term ‘cauldron’ is used far too liberally, too metaphorically to describe arenas but Spurs’ new behemoth home really is just that.
The super-spec sound system, as fine as any in the world, is set with the volume on ‘don’t-care-if-we-wake-the-neighbours’ loud, yet the fans could still drown it out. Somehow.
To watch the movements of fans in the towering South Stand requires a tilt of the neck we’re not accustomed to in UK sports stadiums.
It’s steep, and with a baying crowd raining down a chorus of whoops, jeers and incoherent slander, it’s surely a wholly intimidating feeling for those on the field.
While those in the nosebleed seats will still be afforded a terrific view, the view from the sidelines is stunning and has a subtly UK sporting feel.
A point frequently raised by those comparing UK to US sport is the closeness of fans to the touchline in the Premier League.
For all the guarded nature of the industry and its assets, there’s only a few feet preventing Ken from Leicester reaching out and patting Jamie Vardy on the back, while NFL fans in the US will never come close to their heroes.
The main stands hug the touchline perfectly, there’s little excess, and the whole experience is better off for it.
One major lesson that organisers should learn, despite the unquantifiable nature of the observation, is that from this game forward, every single NFL London game should be played under the lights. All of them.
The 6:00pm kick-off ensured the game was played simultaneously with games across the pond, instantly making you feel as though you’re witnessing a genuine game day.
But on top of that (maybe this boils down to personal preference) isn’t every sporting occasion simply better in the dark, with spotlights beaming down?
This is more the case inside Tottenham’s stadium given their unique lighting setup that perfectly displays the architecture of the place, not only the action on the field.
It’s obvious that comparisons will be made between the 62,000-capacity arena in Tottenham and the 90,000-seater national stadium in Wembley, but there’s already a clear winner when it comes to hosting NFL.
Wembley is a phenomenal stadium – any detractors are likely still mourning the loss of wooden benches, concrete seats and ‘the old Division One’ – yet in previous years it has felt like the NFL is crowbarred into the national ground as a showcase event rather than an authentic game in a competitive league.
It’s no fault of Wembley itself, but with very few people outside of Tottenham fans likely to have set foot inside their new stadium prior to the first NFL game, people will recognise it as an NFL stadium.
From fit-for-purpose NFL locker rooms to the sliding pitch, this is a bespoke experience for players and fans alike.
Such praise for concrete and steel may seem over-the-top but Tottenham have produced a stunning ground and raised the game for American Football in the UK.
This was the 25th NFL game to take place in London since 2007, yet it was the first to feel like the sport was truly at home, an authentic experience, a blistering atmosphere, a triumph for the city.
Oh, by the way, the Raiders won.