NFL's Jacksonville Jaguars Will Play Four Games At Wembley Stadium Over Four Years
The Jacksonville Jaguars and the NFL announced Tuesday that the team will play one home game in London for four years in a row, according to Mark Long of the AP. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and Owner Shahid Khan made a joint announcement about the move. The small-market franchise will play four games at Wembley Stadium, one every season beginning in '13. Khan has made it clear he wants to play games overseas in hopes of increasing the team's brand globally (AP, 8/21). 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 wrote, "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).