Jags owner: Team focused on 4 games in London
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) — Jacksonville owner Shad Khan and the Jaguars are only focused on the one game a year the NFL wants them to play in London the next four years.
However, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell recently said the league could ask the Jaguars to play two games a year in London. Khan said Wednesday in first public comments since Goodell suggested possible multiple London games that he is "going to cross that bridge when we get to it."
Last August, Khan and the NFL announced that the Jaguars would play one home game a year in London for four consecutive years starting in 2013.
Khan was on hand for the Jaguars announcement that the team and the city of Jacksonville would combine on a $63 million project to put new massive video scoreboards in each end zone for the 2014 season. Each would scoreboard will be 55 feet high and 301 feet wide, making them the largest of their kind in the world, according to the Jaguars.
The scoreboard in Cowboys Stadium is 71 feet high and 159 feet wide, and is currently the largest of its kind.
In addition, a new platform area in the north end zone with pools, unique food and beverage offerings and interactive activities will result in the removal of 7,000 seats which were previously covered by tarps. Temporary seating can be installed for major events that require a larger stadium capacity, such as the Florida-Georgia football game.
Khan was asked after the scoreboard announcement if he was disappointed to hear Goodell's statement about the Jaguars possibly playing two games a year in London.
"What we're focused on right now as a team is four games in London for the next four years," Khan said. "That's very important to us. I think everyone needs to understand playing games in London is very, very important for Jacksonville, it's very important to this franchise. We need fans, we need more corporate sponsors. Jacksonville is excellent in fan support, great facilities that we're going to have. We don't have enough corporate sponsors.
"London is the missing piece but right now, our focus is the next four years with one game."
When pressed on the issue of Goodell making his statement, Khan praised the NFL commissioner.
"Roger is absolutely a great commissioner. I think he's doing a fabulous job and I would do anything and everything to support him," Khan added.
But Khan wouldn't provide an answer as to whether he would turn down a Goodell request to play a second game in London.
"Whether it makes sense, there are a number of constituencies," Khan said. "We want to do the right thing for everybody."
The Jaguars are footing the majority of the bill for the new scoreboards.
They will fund 75 percent of the estimated $26.5 million — just under $20 million — for the new video scoreboards with the city of Jacksonville funding the remaining 25 percent. The city also will fund the total estimated $36.4 million to build the north end zone fan engagement area as well as the necessary infrastructure and control room to support the video scoreboards.
"This is about vision," Jacksonville Mayor Alvin Brown said about the city's investment of nearly $43 million. "Enhancing our stadium is a positive step toward the strategic goal of downtown revitalization as well, and it's an opportunity to play to our strengths as a destination for sports and entertainment."
The new improvements will help make Jacksonville a prime candidate to host a national championship in college football, said Rick Catlett, president CEO of the Gator Bowl Association.
"This is a game-changer for Jacksonville," Catlett said. "I am confident that this will bring the national championship game in college football to Jacksonville sooner than we expected."