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Nobody Watches The Jaguars In Jacksonville, So Maybe They Will In London
Jaguars owner Shad Khan announced today that the Jaguars plan to play one home game in each of the following four seasons at Wembley Stadium in London, England. Good news for Khan and Roger Goodell, who want to further expand the Jaguars’ and the NFL’s presence on the world stage, respectively. Bad news for those four Jaguar fans.
Let’s look at logistics. The Rams were slated to play home games across the pond in 2013 and 2014, but totally flaked. Khan, who bought the Jags in November for $770 million, saw the Rams’ departure as an opportunity to improve the marketability and popularity of his team, the least popular franchise in the NFL. Khan’s statement, via ESPN.com:
“We want to create an identity, a bold, ambitious franchise that is aggressive and forward-thinking on the field and away from the field,” Khan said. “We want to be the kind of franchise players want to belong to, sponsors want to be part of, and Jacksonville is proud of. … The key point is to sell Jacksonville to the world. We are a well-kept secret, but after today, that’s not going to be the case.”
And if all goes according to plan, Khan thinks a boon in tourism is in store for Jacksonville, and more visits to the UK could be in the cards:
“If somebody builds a container port, if somebody makes an investment out of Germany or England or Netherlands and they chose Jacksonville, that would be a huge return from my viewpoint,” Khan said. “You could have people come here — we’ve got beautiful golf, weather — instead of vacationing in Miami or some place and they come up here and watch a game or two. That would be a huge return for me.”
KHAAAAAN has received a mixed bag of reactions from Jaguar faithful (apparently there is such a contingent), but I agree with Roger Goodell, who calls this a win-win situation. Maybe I wouldn’t go that far – this is more like a win-status quo situation. Let’s say what Khan predicts will happen, happens. That’s great. Great for Jacksonville, great for London, great for the NFL and great for its expansion.
And let’s say it doesn’t work out. That Jacksonville remains the least popular team in the league and still needs to tarp 10,000 seats at its stadium just to stave off TV blackout. No big deal. There was nowhere to go but up, anyway.
For Jaguars fans who are up in arms about losing a home game each season until 2016, just go with it. You need this. Your franchise needs this. They’re not moving to London permanently, not quite yet, so it’s in your best interest to buy into Khan’s rhetoric and hope for the best. It’s more than MJD has done.
[ESPN, photo via]
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