Shad Khan’s backing out of Wembley sale could impact Jaguars’ viability

Jacksonville Jaguars fans are, not surprisingly, exceptionally happy about the news that owner Shad Khan has withdrawn his bid to purchase Wembley Stadium in London. That should end speculation the franchise might relocate overseas.

Though that might be the case, it potentially is a financial blow to the organization — one that could have an impact on the long-term viability in Jacksonville.

The Jaguars have been transparent about how critical playing in London is for their long-term stability in Jacksonville. The team has played one home game in Wembley Stadium annually since 2013 and is under contract to do so through 2020. The deal Khan struck with the NFL for those annual games granted the team extended territorial rights in the United Kingdom as well as receiving the ticket revenue from the game at the 90,000-seat stadium. Team president Mark Lamping has said that accounts for 11 percent of the franchise’s local revenue (down from 12 percent in 2016 and 15 percent in 2014).1

Purchasing Wembley Stadium would have allowed the Jaguars to continue playing in London indefinitely and given Khan significant additional revenue — including food and beverage sales and suite revenue — from any of the 30 non-NFL games or events held at Wembley. Some of those funds would have funneled back to Jacksonville.

“The revenue potential at Wembley stadium compared to EverBank field is significant,” Lamping said shortly after Khan’s bid to purchase Wembley was revealed in April. “We’ve talked about the importance of London to the Jacksonville Jaguars. Those dollars that we generate in London make us stronger and more stable here in Jacksonville.

But what if London goes away? There’s no guarantee the Jaguars will be able to extend their deal with the NFL after 2020, which is the final season before the league’s collective bargaining agreement expires. Even if the league is amenable to doing another contract, there’s no guarantee it would be willing to continue to give the Jaguars those extended marketing territorial rights. Mark Waller, the NFL’s executive vice president of international and events, has said 2022 remains a target date for a franchise in London that would get those rights.