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Dilemma for Jaguars on extending deal to play in London: Money vs. winning

Gene Frenette's Blog
Jacksonville Jaguars Cheerleaders during a promotional trip to London.  Nicky Hayes/Huw Evans
Nicky Hayes/Huw Evans
Jacksonville Jaguars Cheerleaders during a promotional trip to London.

Financially speaking, there’s no question the Jaguars made the right decision to move one home game per year to London through the 2016 season. It had to be done to help repair a sagging bottom line.

Last year, the Jaguars were able to reap an 8 percent increase in local revenues because of the extra money they took in by moving the San Francisco 49ers home game to Wembley Stadium. Owner Shad Khan jumped at the NFL guaranteeing the Jaguars a 44 percent revenue increase over a sold-out EverBank Field, and rightfully so.

But perhaps by next year, or whenever the NFL asks for an extension from the Jaguars, the London experiment beyond its original four-year commitment will present an interesting dilemma for team general manager Dave Caldwell and coach Gus Bradley. And it’s this: do the Jaguars continue to sacrifice a home game for financial gain, risking the possibility that losing a better homefield advantage at EverBank Field could conceivably cost them either an NFL playoff berth or a postseason bye?

“I think we better see the kind of reception we get [in future games],” said Khan. “Having one less home helps the fans in Jacksonville [ save money on season tickets]. We want it to be good for the fans economically. It’s gotta be good for the NFL, too.

“What we did [last year], everybody won. If and when the time comes, that’s [to be determined].” 

Jaguars president Mark Lamping Is encouraged that the team’s popularity in the United Kingdom rose from 31st in the NFL to ninth last year after making that four-year commitment. He hopes that as the Jaguars become a regular in London,, the game could conceivably become more of a homefield advantage, though he admits there’ll be more Dallas Cowboys fans at Wembley in November than Jagaurs fans.

“It’s a very legitimate question,” Lamping said of whether it’s in the Jagaurs’ best interest to keep playing in London beyond 2016. “Time will tell. The other side of this is if we work really hard on developing a fan base there, and our players get used to going back and forth, it should be easier for us than a team coming over to London for the first time. Then you could argue we do have a homefield advantage like we do in Jacksonville.”

Sorry, but there’s no way the Jaguars could ever have a homefield advantage anywhere equal to what they have in Jacksonville. It’s just not realistic, especially if this franchise starts winning again.

When the time comes to make a decision on extending the London arrangement, general manager Dave Caldwell and coach Gus Bradley are expected to have the biggest say on that call, with input from Khan, of course.

It’s not an easy call, given the Jaguars’ revenue streams lagging behind most of the NFL. Many believe the Jaguars will extend the agreement because they’re going to want the money, but Lamping throws up a caution flag.

“No, I wouldn’t say that,” said Lamping. “We’ll just have to see.”

For the Jaguars, revenue is important. But this team, which is building the smart way and aspires to be a long-term playoff contender beyond 2016, also can’t let that needed extra cash get in the way of the most important thing: winning. 

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Comments (6)

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Jorge
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Jorge 05/14/14 - 03:55 pm
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As a Season Ticket Holder, I

As a Season Ticket Holder, I think the game in London is fine for a few years. In fact, I would like to go this year. I still think the Jaguars tickets are a great value. Here's the only thing...You cannot say the local fans are 'saving money on season tickets' due to only 9 games. My season tickets went up 20%, which makes them more expensive now than with 10 games.

ramonhernandezjr
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ramonhernandezjr 05/14/14 - 12:36 pm
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There is no dilemma. Let me

There is no dilemma. Let me say that as season ticket holder, someone who actually pays to go to the games, I don’t mind the home game in London. I can watch it on TV besides it would be a good excuse to vacation there. We are saving our money so that we can attend that “home” game in London. You have to look at the bigger picture. You cannot afford buy that type of exposure for the city of Jacksonville. The bottom line is that if it helps the bottom line, what’s wrong with it?

TheMadKow
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TheMadKow 05/14/14 - 10:53 am
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If a home game in London

If a home game in London helps the franchises bottomline while they work to make it sustainable in Jacksonville then I don't have an issue. I would rather lose one game for the next couple years than lose the team.

emma3
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emma3 05/14/14 - 12:14 pm
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The national media's

The national media's narrative about the London games being the precursor to a move is most likely wrong. The increase in local revenue is a good thing...while the team is improving, the stadium improving and not increasing ticket prices while the team rebuilds. The fans have been neglected for the past decade, and one game away is not too much to ask, at this point. It may, in fact be what saves the franchise in Jacksonville.

Khan clarified the mojo statement (reported in The Business Journal). He compared it to the old "Aqua Velva" commercial from the 70s. "Slap-thanks, I needed that". (wrong product, but the point was made)..Business in Jacksonville is very laid back, and needs a shakeup. He's right.

timkjagsfan
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timkjagsfan 05/14/14 - 09:13 am
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Of course money wins out. I

Of course money wins out. I am an ardent Jags fan...missed less than 15 games in their history. I'm appalled that this whole, "Jags to London" thing continues. From the onset, I've expected the Jags to play more games in London. To Khan, it is much more a hometown than Jacksonville will ever be. When it was first announced that the Jags were going to be in London for a "home" game, Mr. Khan made the statement that he expected multiple games to be played there in the future. If they're saying that almost 15% of the revenue came from one game in London, one HAS to understand that Khan, the businessman, is more than willing to go where the money is. Heck, if just one game brings in 15% of the yearly revenue, think of what 8 "home" games would do?
All this talk about plans for Jacksonville - the power point presentation etc., gives the appearance of a commitment to Jacksonville. However, Khan, the businessman, knows you go where the money is. His recent remark about mojo in Jacksonville was telling. If he's truly committed to Jacksonville AND the fans HERE, then pull the Jags off the London table, spend all that money developing the franchise HERE at home, and quit the nonsense of trying to sell London as a "home" site. If he wants to play in another site, then go to Orlando. At least the home fans could still attend.
To borrow a phrase usually reserved for our military abroad....."bring our boys HOME!"

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