In a first for the NFL, the Jacksonville Jaguars are going to play not one, but two games in London in the upcoming season. There has been talk about the team making a permanent move to the city over the past couple of years, and perhaps this is a prelude of what’s to come. It’s still unclear if any of the players will run into visa issues with their hop across the pond in a post-Brexit environment, but some stateside Jags fans aren’t exactly thrilled with the idea of their team playing more games on foreign soil.
Could Jaguars Move To London?
At least for now, the plans are to maintain Jacksonville as the team’s home base, but everyone knows how quickly things can change. Mark Lamping, the president of the team, spoke with reporters Tuesday, alluding to the fact that the idea is to make the team as profitable as possible. He referenced moves by teams such as the LA Chargers, the newly renamed Las Vegas Raiders and the LA Rams who had sought better economic options, which could be a hint that, if things go well in London, a move might be considered.
In an attempt to quell concerns over a possible London move for the Jaguars, though, he later added in a statement, “Our work to create new sources of revenue to help us improve our long-term outlook and commitment to operating a thriving franchise in Jacksonville will continue and never end. Jacksonville’s potential is unlimited, and I am confident we can realize it, with the Jaguars serving as the catalyst.”
What Does The Owner Think?
The owner of the Jaguars, Shad Khan, also supports keeping things at home, as long as the return on investment is there. He’s spent a lot of money over the past several years – about $100 million with the most recent tally – to spruce up TIAA Bank field and would be willing to be involved in a $500-million project in Jacksonville that would turn the city into a major entertainment hub, if the city agrees to the plan. If it doesn’t…
Khan wants to win; he made this very clear. However, in the past five years, the team has only had a winning record once. It finished 10-6 in 2017 and made it to the AFC Championship Game before being beaten by the New England Patriots. Jacksonville had its worse recent season a year prior to that, finishing 3-13. This past year, it finished 6-10.
That isn’t an attractive run and Khan’s desire to win could be the impetus for major changes. He recently stated, “First, I want to make it clear that our first priority is winning, and anything we do or say away from that will never be more important than giving Jacksonville a team that wins and the community can be proud to call its own. We are committed first and foremost to winning, and that commitment drives me and everyone at the Jaguars every day.”
The NFL wants to attract a more global fanbase and has spent numerous years playing games in London in an attempt to break into the European sports market, and Khan has been highly supportive of the Jaguars playing in London. With Jacksonville preparing for two back-to-back games in the city, the league is obviously digging in deeper to achieve its goal. However, not everyone is happy, especially many of the Jags fans.
A group of diehard Jacksonville fans, calling themselves the Bold City Brigade, is launching an effort to try to force the league to repeal the schedule for their beloved team. The group said in a statement, “We vehemently oppose this decision. It is our belief that any other fanbase if faced with a similar situation would feel equally as disappointed and angry.”
There are also concerns on the part of season ticket holders, who now feel cheated as they lose another game. However, the team promises to offer a number of perks and discounted tickets in an effort to cover the difference. A small compensation for what lies ahead.