SBD/November 30, 2011/Franchises

Khan Reportedly Paying $760M To Buy Jaguars; Weaver Lauded By Jacksonville Press

Khan will make public debut as team's prospective owner before “MNF” game
Flex-N-Gate President Shahid Khan's deal to buy the Jaguars from Wayne Weaver is for $760M, with Khan using $350M of debt “to finance the deal,” according to sources cited by Mike Ozanian of FORBES.com. Forbes in August estimated the franchise to be worth $725M, "last among the National Football League’s 32 teams.” The Jaguars sale price “clearly reflects the boost in television revenue given that the most recent sale prior to the Jaguars were the St. Louis Rams," which Stan Kroenke bought last year for $750M (FORBES.com, 11/29). Khan has bid on the Rams, but ESPN’s Chris Mortensen noted because of “some complications, and they involve taxes,” the NFL Finance Committee “got cold feet” and declined the offer. However, NFL Exec VP/Business Operations Eric Grubman has been “working hard behind the scenes on this, and they must have a comfort level now with Khan's financial situation” (“SportsCenter,” ESPN, 11/29). Weaver said that NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell “supported the sale, an indication that concerns about Khan’s financial and tax situation, raised during his pursuit of the Rams, had been resolved and that the sale would probably be approved by owners” (N.Y. TIMES, 11/30).

DEDICATED TO JACKSONVILLE: Weaver spent a fair amount of time in his press conference yesterday announcing the sale of the team reiterating that the franchise will remain in Jacksonville. The Jaguars have often been rumored as a candidate to relocate to L.A., but Weaver said, “I've had calls from California I just refused to take. It was wasting their time and my time, and they knew it and the people that I ran into at meetings and other parts that would ask about California, I'd just say, ‘You know, we have no interest. We're a Jacksonville franchise and we plan to stay a Jacksonville franchise.’” There is no clause in the deal with Khan that implicitly states the team will remain in Jacksonville, and Weaver said, “It's hard to write something that forces somebody to say you're going to keep something here. The only reason that I would have ever moved the team is if I couldn't make it sustain itself here. We have been able to do that and there's no reason that Shahid won't be able to do that.” Weaver said Khan is “going to spend time here in Jacksonville, and he's going to run this franchise much like he does his other companies. He's keeping the Jaguar management group intact.” Khan “will be hands-on and not day-to-day here, the way I am, but he'll be here running the business with our current management group.” Khan will make his public debut as the Jaguars prospective owner next Monday before the team’s “MNF” game against the Chiefs (JAGUARS.com, 11/29). WSCR-AM David Schuster: “Why wouldn’t you move it to Los Angeles? That’s just a gold mine, at some point, waiting to happen. Jacksonville or Los Angeles? Nice knowing you, I’m out of here” (“Chicago Tribune Live,” Comcast SportsNet Chicago, 11/29). SI's Peter King said of Khan, "I do think that he's got to say, ‘Hey, I'm not moving the team from Jacksonville.’ But he'd be foolish to not think that if this team isn't supported more consistently through good times and bad, he's got to consider his options." King also said, "I don't think Los Angeles is the only threat to the good people of Jacksonville. I also think London is a threat because eventually, I think in our lifetime there's going to be a franchise on the mainland of Europe, at least one and probably more” ("PTI," ESPN, 11/29).

HERE TO STAY FOR A WHILE: YAHOO SPORTS’ Jason Cole noted while the idea of the Jaguars moving to L.A. "isn’t as simple as it might seem," as the team has a league at EverBank Field that "runs through the 2027 season.” Former Jacksonville Mayor John Delaney, who helped write the deal between the team and the city-owned facility, said, “The team would have to show that because of lack of attendance it’s losing money for three straight years and that’s probably a difficult thing for an NFL team to do.” Under the growing television revenue the NFL receives, teams “have never been more profitable.” The average value of an NFL team “has climbed to approximately $1 billion.” Delaney said, “Even if the team declared that it was losing money, the issue would be litigated and all the books from the team would be subpoenaed.” He added, “Could you find a way out of the lease? Yes, but it’s going to take some very serious work and there’s going to be a lot of uncertainty along the way” (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 11/29). NFL Network's Jason La Canfora noted the Jaguars' lease is “fairly restrictive” and it would “be expensive -- upwards of $50 million -- to get out of it." La Canfora; "But there are some clauses in there where if he could prove three years of financial hardship and meet certain parameters it becomes a little bit easier to move” ("NFL Total Access," NFL Network, 11/29). 

A FOND FAREWELL: In Jacksonville, Mark Woods writes the Weaver family “didn’t grow up” in the city, but Jacksonville is “lucky they ended up here.” Weaver “never threatened to move,” and he was “constantly dousing such rumors, digging deeper roots in Jacksonville” (JACKSONVILLE.com, 11/30). Also in Jacksonville, Gene Frenette writes, “No matter what anyone thought of Weaver as a football owner ... he and his wife, Delores, have been absolute pillars in the community.” The Weavers “immersed themselves in contributing to a better Jacksonville, donating approximately $60 million through the team’s foundation or personal assets to assorted charitable causes.” Frenette: “Everyone knew Weaver’s heart for Jacksonville was in the right place. Without Weaver, this city is likely still without an NFL team and struggling to carve a niche for itself nationally” (FLORIDA TIMES-UNION, 11/30). The Community Foundation in Jacksonville President Nina Waters said that the Weavers “have changed the way philanthropy is done in Jacksonville.” The Weavers “will continue their philanthropic work through the Weaver Family Foundation.” Jacksonville Jaguars Foundation Exec Dir Peter Racine said that the nonprofit “will also continue operating, though without the Weavers’ involvement” (FLORIDA TIMES-UNION, 11/30). In Jacksonville, David Bauerlein notes for Jacksonville civic leaders “who bonded with Wayne and Delores Weaver over the past 18 years, the arrival of a new Jaguars owner hits the reset button sooner than they anticipated.” They said yesterday that they “hope Khan will be as engaged as the Weavers have been in Jacksonville’s business and charitable organizations” (FLORIDA TIMES-UNION, 11/30).
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