Jacksonville Jaguars owner Shad Khan announced at the team’s “State of the Franchise” meeting last week that he intends to keep his investment in the city where it all started. Despite the fact the team will play one home game a year in London until 2020, there is no plan to move the team, making it the NFL’s permanent resident across the pond.
Fans rejoiced when Khan made the statement and they applauded his efforts to improve the team, the facilities at EverBank Field and the surrounding area when the stadium is built. But a closer look at the NFL and its desire to put a franchise in London at some point – potentially in the near future – could hurt the team in terms of revenue.
The Jaguars are one of the smallest markets in the NFL and relies on the money made by playing overseas. A team that calls London home will take away from that revenue, creating a monetary situation that will not be beneficial to Khan and the Jaguars.
Michael DiRocco pointed this out in his story on ESPN.com.
“If the Jaguars lose our position in London it makes the Jaguars less stable in Jacksonville,” Jaguars president Mark Lamping said at the meeting last Friday. “As local revenue goes so goes our stability in Jacksonville.”
It has been discussed for some time that because the Jaguars have played one of their home games in Wembley Stadium the past three years and will play the Indianapolis Colts overseas in 2016, that the franchise could be the one to make the move.
Khan put the lid on that rumor once and for all with his statement.
According to DiRocco’s story, Lamping said last week that what the Jaguars earn in London from tickets, sponsorships and marketing makes up 12.5 percent of the team’s local revenue. That’s down from 15 percent in 2013 and that’s a good sign because it means the team’s actual Jacksonville-area revenue has increased. Still, it would be a huge chunk to lose.
A story in October on NFL.com discussed the potential for a team to be in London by 2022, which would come after the Jaguars’ agreement with the league would end. Hopefully by then, the team will have created such a fan base and improved it revenue so London may not be a “necessity” for the stability of the franchise.
The NFL, according to the article by Albert Breer, thinks the 2022 time frame can happen.
“It’s a realistic time frame,” NFL Executive Vice President for International Mark Waller said Wednesday. “But there are still things we need to test for, so we have to be able to build a lot of things into the next few years. We don’t need to prove as much on the fan-demand side. We feel comfortable that, in a few years, we’ll be where we need to be there. The real focus is doing things to keep testing. We’re really focusing on the logistical and operational side.”
The NFL has played at least one international game in London since 2007. The league now hosts three games across the pond. Jacksonville has been considered the host team for the NFL now that Khan has agreed to play games overseas and uses the games and the event to attract international business for himself and the First Coast (north Florida).
It appears the success of playing in the UK has allowed the NFL to explore playing in other countries to further expand the worldwide appeal.
Breer said the NFL is considering either adding another game in London, keeping it at three in London and adding another game in another country, or both. The two countries under consideration, outside of the U.K., for a new International Series game in 2016 are Germany and Mexico. If it’s Mexico — and stadium issues remain there — it’ll be in Mexico City. If it’s Germany — and the NFL’s new media deal makes that marketplace more attractive for the owners — it’ll be in Berlin, Düsseldorf, Frankfurt or Hamburg.