There has been much speculation for years that the Jaguars will end up moving to London, England, permanently and Tuesday’s announcement by the team that they’re adding a second London game for 2020 is only going to stir it all back up.
First, the team made the surprising news official on its website late morning Tuesday that they will become the first team to ever have two “home games” outside of the U.S. in the same season,
Full press release regarding season ticket member pricing and London games. ⤵https://t.co/1ZwMN0tw7k
— #DUUUVAL (@Jaguars) February 4, 2020
“Our work to create new sources of revenue to help us improve our long-term outlook and commitment to operating a thriving franchise in Jacksonvillewill continue and never end,” said Mark Lamping, president of the Jacksonville Jaguars said in the statement. “For the past seven seasons, our London strategy has been a game-changer. No single approach, including London, will answer the many challenges that are common with any market the size of Jacksonville.”
Although, we don’t know the exact dates or the opponents, the Jaguars did announce they will play back-to-back weeks at London’s Wembley Stadium in October. That’s when the NFL typically plays their International Games in the U.K. And, this was the case of year ago when the Jaguars hosted the Houston Texans at Wembley.
Interestingly in the statement, the Jaguars announced that two teams on their home schedule won’t be playing in London: the Steelers and the Bears. This obviously indicates that owner Shad Khan and the NFL reached an agreement that, in addition to allowing the league to move two of the Jags home games to London, those two games with huge traveling fan bases that will likely sell out TIAA Bank Field in Jacksonville won’t be part of the deal.
As mentioned above, this will only fuel more speculation the Jacksonville will begin playing, as many as half of their home games in London. That is something that had been speculated by the London tabloid press last year in a scenario the team would still maintain Jacksonville as their home base for off-season, training camp and preseason purposes but then split up their eight regular-season “home” games.
Khan, who already owns the English Premier League soccer team Fulham FC, was in negotiations last fall trying to buy Wembley Stadium. That only heightened anxiety that he was doing so to permanently move the Jaguars to London for all of their games.
Alas, officials in England and with the Football Association or “FA” chose not to reach a deal with Khan to sell him the facility. Still the NFL has had an over 35 year relationship with Wembley and the Jaguars have regularly played home games there for the entire tenure that Khan has owned the team.
The move will obviously be met with much skepticism and disdain from Jaguar fans, as they are one of the smallest market teams in the NFL. And, save for the 2017 season where they won the AFC South and a couple of playoff games, Jacksonville has basically had little to no success on the field with Khan owning them and therefore, with only mild fan support because of it.
In the end, it’s all about “the green” for NFL owners and Khan realizes that’s selling more less than desirable home games back of the NFL for them to be played in England makes more financial sense, than playing in a half empty stadium in Jacksonville.
The Jaguars lease with the city apparently currently allows for up to two of the games to be played in another location besides TIAA Bank Field.
Now, we wait to see if Khan will attempt to change that/escalate slowly beyond just two games in future years, or if he and the NFL will attempt to move Jags completely out of Jacksonville?
Certainly, Tuesday’s announcement can only be taken one way: the Khan wants to play more, not less games, in the U.K. And, the NFL is happy to let him start with two next year.