Steelers President Art Rooney II was among those attending the Welcome to London Dinner for the NFL at the House of Parliament, Palace of Westminster, on Thursday evening in London.
The reception was hosted by Members of Parliament, including Peter Bone, who welcomed the attendees, and Hugh Robertson, the Minister for Sport and Tourism, who addressed the guests.
One of the highlights of the evening was a tour of the House of Parliament, the famed location where the two factions of government, the House of Commons and the House of Lords, meet.
“It’s going to be a very interesting trip,” said Rooney. “London is an interesting city with a lot of great history. It will be fun to take in some of the events and sights.”
Rooney, who is on the NFL’s International Committee, said this Sunday’s Steelers-Vikings game will be a good opportunity to continue evaluating the feasibility of having an NFL franchise in London.
“We have been doing a lot of work as to whether London can be a city that hosts a franchise some day, so this will be an interesting experience in terms of thinking about how that might work,” said Rooney. “I think there is still ground work to be done. This year we are playing two games over there. I think the idea is that will increase over the next couple of years to three or four games. That will start to give us a better idea of whether a franchise can be supported on a regular basis.”
The main focus for Rooney and the entire Steelers organization, though, will be Sunday’s game against the Minnesota Vikings at Wembley Stadium.
“It will be an interesting experience for the team,” said Rooney. “If you want to be one of the top teams you have to be prepared to play in primetime and travel to different places and things like that. Even though there can be distractions, you have to learn to deal with those.”
Rooney is looking forward to seeing the turnout of Steelers fans, many who live in the United Kingdom as well as those who are traveling from the United States for the game.
“From what I am hearing there are going to be a lot of Steelers fans there and a lot traveling,” said Rooney. “It will be fun to see how Steelers fans enjoy a setting like London and all of the experiences that go with it.”