Falcons fans turned out for the team's inaugural game at Wembley Stadium in London in 2014. Photo: AtlantaFalcons.com

The Atlanta Falcons will showcase the American take on football across the pond again this year, returning to Wembley Stadium in London for another matchup aimed at boosting the National Football League’s growing profile in Europe. 

They’ll be hosted by the Jacksonville Jaguars, which inked a five-game deal with Wembley and will become the first NFL franchise to play two straight games outside the United States when they face the Falcons Oct. 1, followed by the Buffalo Bills on Oct. 8. 

The Falcons appearance, the third since debuting in the United Kingdom in 2014, may also open doors for Atlanta to highlight its business bona fides. 

In prior years — at Wembley in 2014 and at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in 2021 — significant Atlanta delegations have made the trip, capitalizing on the built-in publicity and hospitality opportunities that sports entail. 

When Georgia Tech’s football team first traveled to Ireland in 2016, a group of high-level leaders, from business executives and university presidents to American and British diplomats, joined the trip. It was successful enough that a repeat is planned or the season opener in 2024. A Georgia Tech basketball game in Shanghai also opened the door for an alumni engagement mission to China in 2017, around which many business activities were planned. 

Atlanta also has played host to British delegations studying the city’s blend of technology and sports, eyeing markets for their innovations in the fan experience, analytics, digital marketing, Esports and more. 

The U.K. and Atlanta have grown closer on the sporting front since Atlanta United, the Major League Soccer team, set up shop at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in 2017, led by inaugural President Darren Eales, who formerly led Tottenham Hotspur. Mr. Eales left Atlanta United last August to join Newcastle United. 

British expat football fans are also hyped to see the World Cup come to Atlanta in 2026. 

The Falcons see the U.K. game as a way to extend their reach in the broader European market. In May, the team garnered international marketing rights in Germany, where the NFL hosted its first sold-out matchup in the 70,000-seat Allianz arena in Munich during the 2022 season. 

With corporate sponsors like Mercedes-Benz and Delta boasting deep German connections, the Falcons saw the country as a natural fit. Also enticing was Germany’s 30,000 flag football league participants, including many female players, as well as the presence of a major U.S. military contingent. 

“We’re a leading club in supporting the military and Germany is one of the largest countries in terms of U.S. bases,” Falcons team president Greg Beadles said in a news story posted on the Falcons’ website. “It feeds in naturally to what we already do.”

Two NFL games are planned for Frankfurt this season, and the Falcons are eyeing opportunities to host contests in Germany this year. 

It will bring members of its German fan club, already active and producing German-language podcasts about Falcons games, to the Wembley game to get a feel for how the experience might go if and when the birds do “rise up” on the European mainland, Mr. Beadles said. 

“They’re going to be the foundation for what we’re doing in Germany.”

As managing editor of Global Atlanta, Trevor has spent 15+ years reporting on Atlanta’s ties with the world. An avid traveler, he has undertaken trips to 30+ countries to uncover stories on the perils...