NFL Jaguars Hope To Stay In London Beyond Deal Through '20
The NFL Jacksonville Jaguars' long-term commitment to the U.K. "allowed them to become a much stronger franchise," team SVP of Int'l Development Hussain Naqi said, according to Hassan Rashed of ESPN.com. The Jaguars have made five visits to London since the NFL launched the Int'l Series in '07. Following a victory over the Baltimore Ravens in its '17 matchup at Wembley Stadium, it was confirmed that the Jaguars will host the Philadelphia Eagles at Wembley in '18. In addition to transforming Wembley into "something of a fortress" -- winning its last three games at the ground -- Naqi said that the team's time in the U.K. has "also benefited the franchise away from the field." He said, "One of the really important elements of our presence here is our ability to grow local revenue. London represents a very important part of that and allows for a lot of flexibility, such as how you structure player contracts." Since the team made its first visit to London in '13, the club's reputation in the U.K. has "received a significant boost," with frequent matches and various community projects helping the Jaguars emerge as "London's team." Naqi: "Our fan base has really grown. When we started out over here, we were unsurprisingly a very small-market team. We were probably 31st or 32nd in popularity, and we're now the eighth-most-popular team in the U.K." (ESPN.com, 1/19).