Jaguars Owner Shahid Khan is going to London this week "to begin the serious business of promoting his team to a British audience," according to Peter King of SI.com. The Jaguars next season begin a run of four straight years playing in London, and Khan is "determined that the Jaguars become England's NFL team, and perhaps Europe's, over the next few years." He also sees that as "part of the plan of the Jaguars' long-term future in Jacksonville." King: Who knows if the Jaguars can dent the English sports scene, or the European one," but Khan is "going to try." He will make appearances on the BBC and Sky Sports this week and will "meet members of Parliament anxious for an influx of American sport." Khan and K Josh Scobee also "will be guests" at England's FIFA World Cup qualifier against San Marino Friday at Wembley Stadium. Scobee "will have some sort of kicking exhibition at halftime of the game." Khan and NFL CMO Mark Waller on Thursday will announce the Jaguars' opponent for the '13 game. Khan said that "it's 'highly likely' Jacksonville may eventually play two home games a year in Europe." King notes the Jacksonville market "won't take kindly to losing a second home game," and Khan's "outside-the-box thinking is a double-edged sword." King: "I'm not so sure the Jags are in Jacksonville in 15 years with conventional thinking" (SI.com, 10/8).
GETTING COMFY: In N.Y., Judy Battista noted the Jaguars spent more than $3M "to construct the NFL’s most luxurious locker room” at EverBank Field. The locker room “looks like a cross between a high-end nightclub (a 41,600-watt sound system) and a five-star hotel (stacked stone wall tile) and is so deluxe that the team recently used it to host a dinner for sponsors.” In the “most visible attempt to overhaul their image” under Khan, the Jaguars have “embraced their inner interior designer, replete with two waterfalls that splash into plunge pools, Euro-style toilets inside individual private stalls and leather chairs custom-built extra wide to accommodate even the heftiest linemen.” There are “ventilation systems built into each locker to dry equipment, helping the Jaguars to pull off the unimaginable: the locker room smells like a new car instead of a sweaty sock.” Jaguars Senior VP/Football Technology & Analytics Tony Khan, Shahid's son, said, “It’s first class, just to show that’s how he does things. It’s the best locker room in the NFL. He wants this to be the best organization in the NFL.” Battista noted Shahid Khan “personally met with the designers and approved the details” of the locker room (N.Y. TIMES, 10/7).
RIDING THE STORM OUT: Khan yesterday said he plans to “stay the course” with GM Gene Smith and coach Mike Mularkey despite the team’s lackluster start. When told there are “questions about what his style will be as an owner and how patient he will be,” Khan said that he is “still figuring out his style as an owner.” Khan also said that the Jaguars “need the support of the fans.” In Jacksonville, Vito Stellino notes the Jaguars “announced they distributed 67,012 tickets” for yesterday’s game against the Bears (FLORIDA TIMES-UNION, 10/8). In Jacksonville, Gene Frenette notes being “outscored 95-20 at EverBank Field in 180 minutes of football is far more embarrassing than any tarps over seats or having one playoff win in the past 12 years.” The Jaguars are a “game-day disaster.” A change to black jerseys did “nothing against the Bears to alter a train heading in a bad direction” (FLORIDA TIMES-UNION, 10/8).
ROLE MODEL: Khan said that he “respects and looks up to” Bears Owner the McCaskey family because he "intends to keep the Jaguars in his family.” He said, “It is a great family business. I can say that now with a greater amount of certainty. It’s small enough and passionate enough that it’s the ideal family business” (CHICAGO SUN-TIMES, 10/7).
The Sounders' 3-0 win over the Timbers yesterday at CenturyLink Field in Seattle marked a "franchise-record crowd for an MLS game" with 66,452 in attendance, according to Joshua Mayers of the SEATTLE TIMES. It also marked the "second-largest crowd in league history for a stand-alone game." MLS Commissioner Don Garber said, "I'm not even here on official duty tonight. I'm here just to experience it. I knew this would be a historic event" (SEATTLE TIMES, 10/8). The AP's Tim Booth noted there have been "doubleheaders featuring international friendlies to go along with a league match, but in terms of a match between two MLS teams, the only one to top what Portland and Seattle drew was the first match in league history when Los Angeles hosted New York at the Rose Bowl in 1996 in front of 69,255" (AP, 10/7).
FROM THE DESK OF THE GENERAL MANAGER: Sounders GM Adrian Hanauer on Saturday said of the anticipated crowd, "First and foremost it speaks volumes about the league overall. ... I personally have never been as bullish as I am today about the continued growth in the league." He added, "I don't know that crowds of 60,000 are going to be regular. The reality is obviously there are only a few markets that can accommodate that. But I think the bigger story will be stadiums sold out in advance of the season for the entire season, teams having to try and figure out how they're going to add capacity to their stadia, the sport continuing to compete and grab mind share from the other four major league sports in this country, so I do think there are going to be more of those types of issues." Hanauer said of the organization holding a fan vote to determine if he retains his role as GM, " I really like this process. For sure it's easier for me as an owner to like the process. ... What does this vote look like for someone who does count on this job to put food on their table and for whom it is maybe a precarious commitment? But I love the fact that it is a fan-driven thing. That's not to say, by the way, that an ownership group in our organization couldn't do the same thing. To be honest, I don't know what the charter says, but I assume it says that if Joe (Roth) and I and Paul Allen and Drew want to get rid of a general manager, we can do that. So I think it's sort of the best of both worlds" (SEATTLETIMES.com, 10/6).
Former Blues President John Davidson has “agreed to an undisclosed buyout” from Owner Tom Stillman to leave the organization, according to Jeremy Rutherford of the ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH. Davidson said, "Tom has stuck his neck out to purchase this team with a lot of the local ownership folks. He's looking at the bottom line and I understand that. With that being said, the two of us decided it would be better to help the franchise financially and for myself to be put in a situation where I can take the buyout and just move on. There's no animosity, really. It's business. It's just what it is -- business.” Davidson had three years remaining on an $8M contract, and Stillman said that Davidson's departure was “necessary for a new ownership group attempting to trim costs.” He added Davidson has “done a great job here, so it’s certainly nothing about his work." But Stillman noted team execs are "working to get our business, our financial house in order." Stillman: "We feel the organization was bloated and our expenses were way out of line. And we have to marshal our resources so that we can focus on continuing to put a winning, contending team on the ice” (ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, 10/6). Davidson said, “Whenever there's new ownership, you always know there's the possibility of change and I knew right away, I could tell. It's hard to explain, but you just know” (ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, 10/6).
The Mets are “talking to banks to find a way to raise cash,” according to sources cited by Richard Sandomir of the N.Y. TIMES. SportsNet N.Y., the team’s RSN, under one option would refinance its existing $450M loan and borrow “more toward paying off some of the team’s heavy bank debt and toward other possible purposes, like day-to-day operating expenses or the twice-a-year payments” on Citi Field’s bonds. Team Chair & CEO Fred Wilpon and President Saul Katz as well as SNY “could also get cash dividends from the proceeds.” SportsCorp President Marc Ganis said, “SNY is a better credit risk than the team. It’s not subject to Major League Baseball’s debt restrictions, and unlike a team’s expenses that go up and down, SNY’s are easily quantifiable.” Inner Circle Sports Founder & CEO Rob Tilliss said, “They’re moving the debt from one side of the ledger to the other.” Sandomir noted the team lost $70M in 2011 and “might have lost tens of millions of dollars more this season despite lopping off” $50M in salary obligations (N.Y. TIMES, 10/6).
The Royals next season will implement a season-ticket price increase "for virtually all seats except those in the ritzy Crown Club, which are actually dropping by $5 a ticket," according to Bob Dutton of the K.C. STAR. The price jump for about 85% of season-ticket holders "will be $1 per game for those who signed up prior to the just-completed season. The increase for fans with season tickets "prior to this year will range from $1-3 per ticket." The team "did not raise prices in 2012 for returning season-ticket holders." The increases are only for season-ticket plans; prices for single-game tickets "will be announced after the first of the year" (K.C. STAR, 10/6).