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.