After making the move from St. Louis to Los Angeles, the Rams will now be going all the way to China — for one game at least.
The NFL announced on Monday that it plans to further its international push to China and Germany, and while Commissioner Roger Goodell said the details are still being finalized, multiple owners confirmed Wednesday that the Rams are slated to be the home team for a China game in 2018, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Under head coach Jeff Fisher (pictured above), the team had already agreed to play an international game in each of the next three seasons, starting with a London game against the New York Giants on Oct. 23.
Being on the West Coast, the Rams are geographically closer to the Far East than many of the other 31 teams in the NFL, but it is still almost an 13-hour direct flight from L.A. to Beijing in addition to a 15-hour time difference.
Rams CEO Kevin Demoff warned that it’s premature to say an agreement to play in China has been finalized yet, but he believes the concept makes sense for the franchise.
“It’s a great opportunity to expand the brand,” Demoff said. “I think when you look at how diverse Los Angeles is, the different ethnicities and cultures, it’s something you want to embrace and bring everyone into the fold as Rams fans in Southern California.”
The visit to China will be the NFL’s biggest push for American football on the Asian continent. Back in 2007, the league had plans to play in China but that game was tentatively rescheduled for 2009, and ended up never happening at all.
The Jacksonville Jaguars are contracted to play a game in England in each of the next five seasons and can extend that agreement to 2025. In addition to the NFL’s regular Wembley Stadium site — which will host two games in 2016 — the third game this season between the Rams and Giants will take place at new venue Twickenham Stadium, which usually hosts rugby matches.
Brazil is another potential international destination that has been batted around by NFL owners and executives, and on Nov. 2 of this year the Oakland Raiders will host the Houston Texans at Estadio Azteca in Mexico City.
In January, it was announced that Rams owner Stan Kroenke would be moving the team back to Los Angeles. A $1.86 billion stadium set to be built in Inglewood, which is located southwest of downtown L.A., will be their new home from 2019 onwards. The team will play at the Memorial Coliseum (home of the USC Trojans) until construction is complete.
Also on Wednesday, HBO announced that the Rams will be the next subject of their hit NFL profile series “Hard Knocks.”
“Ray Donovan” star Liev Schreiber will narrate the annual training camp documentary this time around, which will revolve around the team as it returns to L.A.. It will premiere in August.