Jaguars Owner Shahid Khan and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell today “will announce at a news conference that the Jaguars will play multiple regular season home games in London starting in 2013,” according to Vito Stellino of the FLORIDA TIMES-UNION. The move will "cost Jaguars fans a late October home game, but will also reduce the price of a season ticket by 10 per cent.” The Jaguars will play “nine instead of 10 games at home -- two in the preseason and seven instead of eight in the regular season.” Khan "expressed his interest in playing in London when it was first announced he was buying the team last November, but the deadline had already passed for applying for a 2012 home game.” The opportunity for future games opened last week as the Rams pulled out of the '13 and '14 games. Former Jaguars Owner Wayne Weaver “had rejected the idea of playing a game overseas because he felt it would fuel speculation the team might move.” But Khan, an “international businessman, has taken the position that it will raise the profile of the Jaguars and the city of Jacksonville.” He plans to “bring business and civic leaders from Jacksonville to London to help pitch the city to European businessman” (FLORIDA TIMES-UNION, 8/21). WTEV-CBS' Brent Martineau cited sources as saying that the team has “done extensive planning on playing in London.” The organization had “put together a presentation to the NFL on their willingness to help globalize the game for the NFL and for the city of Jacksonville” (ACTIONNEWSJAX.com, 8/20). WJXT-TV reported it is “possible that the Jaguars could play two games overseas each year starting in 2014, although details of the long-term plans have not been worked out.” One of those games could be considered a "road game" (NEWS4JAX.com, 8/20).
SAVING FACE:USA TODAY’s Jarrett Bell writes, "This is a good move for one of the league's newest owners on several levels, including the goodwill points he has chalked up with Goodell for helping the NFL save face after the St. Louis Rams recently bailed out on the final two years of their commitment.” It also “fits the profile of Khan, a sharp and aggressive self-made billionaire eager to put his mark on his franchise.” If the Jaguars succeed on the field, “they'd be positioned for a double-bonus marketing windfall” (USA TODAY, 8/21). ESPN.com’s Paul Kuharsky wrote Khan will not have "a hard time selling his team’s American fan base on this idea.” Kuharsky suggested Khan should “start by telling fans this: A season ticket package is expensive. It just got smaller and less expensive for the next four seasons. Instead of a 10-game slate, you get nine. Nine is cheaper than 10. You can live without one. And that one is going to help us in the revenue department in a way that should make us a more stable franchise, assuring you at least nine” (ESPN.com, 8/20).
The Nationals' lead all of MLB with a 76-46 record, and with a World Series win the team could "supplant the Redskins as the region's most revered team," according to Robert McCartney of the WASHINGTON POST. McCartney writes, "If the Washington area comes together to celebrate the Nats’ triumphs as it did when the Redskins won three Super Bowls between 1983 to 1992, then it would do more than anything I can imagine to strengthen our region’s pride and identity." There is a "lot of negative reputation to overcome, but the Nats could do it." Not only are the Nationals "good this year, but they also are built around a core of young stars signed to long-term contracts who could keep the team competitive for years to come." Nationals COO Andy Feffer said, "The Nationals and baseball are the hottest thing in Washington right now. All you have to do is turn on local radio. We are the team in Washington that people are talking about." McCartney noted the Nationals' average attendance is up 28% from last year, to "just over 30,000 per game," while sales of "red caps, jerseys and other merchandise are up 80 percent." However, the Nationals "must overcome one big challenge before they can truly unite the region: Like the rest of Major League Baseball, they need to attract more African American fans." McCartney: "Look at the crowd in Nationals Park -- it doesn't reflect the region's diversity as a Redskins crowd does" (WASHINGTON POST, 8/18).
It has "taken a decade, but the ownership group now known as Sharks Sports & Entertainment is starting to show a personality that can be as unconventional as its Silicon Valley surroundings," according to David Pollak of the SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS. SSE said that it "lost $15 million last season despite selling out every game." Sharks co-Owner Kevin Compton said of the team's player salaries nearing the NHL cap, "We're OK with that because that's a decision we've made to stay competitive." Pollak noted the Sharks franchise "operates with no CEO or president." Sharks co-Owner Stratton Sclavos said, "We've taken out a few layers (of management) in the organization, and that makes it faster to get decisions made." The owners said that the Sharks "are debt-free." Compton: "We're a completely liquid organization and so far have continued to fund operations by choice. This isn't Phoenix." Pollak noted eleven names "are listed as the owners" of SSE, but Compton and Sclavos "matter the most." The Sharks "do not disclose what percentage of the team each partner has, but Compton and Sclavos -- along with German software magnate Hasso Plattner -- are the most heavily invested." Since the departure of former CEO Greg Jamison nearly two years ago, Compton and Sclavos "guide the franchise, presiding over monthly meetings with the team's six executive vice presidents and reporting back to the full ownership group quarterly." All of the owners "have authorized a player payroll close to the maximum allowed for each of the past four seasons." Sclavos in June said, "It all comes back to mission No. 1 -- win the Stanley Cup. We have to give the hockey side the resources to put the best team on ice every season that we can" (SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS, 8/20).
READY FOR NEW NEIGHBORS? Sclavos said of the A's potentially relocating to San Jose, "You can always look at these things as a problem or an opportunity. In our discussions we're led to believe there's probably opportunity there for us. We do a lot of things really well in sports marketing and ticket sales and sponsorship sales. We think those assets could be leveraged other places." But Compton added, "Our big concern would be to see that the fan experience doesn't change as far as parking and traffic and things like that. We're not going to compromise on that." Sclavos said of a potential new arena in S.F., "Another venue coming into the area is not what you always wish for. On the other hand, a lot of these acts are playing multiple venues in this geographic area 50 miles apart. I don't think we're too concerned about it and it's a long way away" (MERCURYNEWS.com, 8/19).