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$800 million+ Wembley Stadium purchase will strengthen the Jacksonville Jaguars, according to the team

The Jacksonville Jaguars think that investing hundreds of millions of dollars overseas will help strengthen the team’s stability on the First Coast. 

Jaguars owner Shad Khan is working to purchase London’s Wembley Stadium, offering more than $800 million for the deal. Jags President Mark Lamping says the proposal would allow The Football Association- which currently owns the Stadium- to also retain future revenue from club seats, valued at more than $400 million over time. Lamping says they’re now working on due diligence over the condition of the venue, and expect the deal could close in a matter of around eight weeks. 

The deal was presented to the FA Thursday, but Lamping says it’s the culmination of more than a year of strategic conversations. He says, with FA ownership, they always ran the risk that the Stadium would be sold to another party that either had no interest in partnering with the NFL, or could not be as flexible in the scheduling. 

“In every respect, the Jaguars’ standing in London would be improved and dramatically enhanced if we are fortunate to be approved as the new owner and steward of Wembley Stadium, and that’s good news for the Jaguars and all of Jacksonville,” says a statement from Khan. 

Speaking to the media at the Jags’ Draft Party late Thursday, Khan said he sees the challenges that Jacksonville has as an NFL market, and looks for ways to work around that.

“We want to be proactive, do something about it, and be at the cutting edge of a franchise that can win games and have a great experience,” he says.

This falls in line with a business update delivered by Lamping during the team’s “State of the Franchise” last week. Lamping says Jacksonville is small, compared to other NFL markets, so they’re always looking for more revenue opportunities to supplement what they bring in locally. The team has long said it intends to continue to strengthen its foothold in the London series, because of the potential that market has to bring in revenue. 

TEN THINGS TO KNOW: Jacksonville Jaguars “State of the Franchise”

“This is very consistent with the strategy that we’ve been successfully implementing over the course of the past several years, trying to find those opportunities that can result in new revenue streams that flow back to Jacksonville,” Lamping said Thursday. 

“For the Jaguars, it would deliver another – and very significant – asset and local revenue source that would further strengthen our investment in London, which as everyone knows is crucial to the Jaguars’ continued sustainability in Jacksonville,” says a statement from Khan. 

Lamping says the purchase of Wembley would give them access to additional revenue in the venue- like concessions- while also stopping the “sizable” annual payment the team makes to play there. Additionally, Lamping says Khan would stand to make money off other non-NFL games hosted in the Stadium each year, including English National League matches. 

“Those games are the most valuable content at Wembley each and every year,” he says. 

Khan sought to make it clear to the London fan base of the Jaguars and Fulham FC, which he also owns, that he will continue investing in them, as he also seeks to honor Wembley Stadium. 

“As important, Wembley Stadium would return to private ownership and The Football Association would be able to focus on its core mission of developing players with the best player developers and facilities anywhere in the game, thanks in part to the vast financial benefit that would result from the transaction. I trust many if not most of you are also supporters of the England national teams, so I hope you welcome the potential of this becoming a reality. Always know Wembley would be home to the England national teams, and that we would strive every day of the year to be the best possible steward for a venue that is iconic and beloved here and throughout the world,” says a statement Khan made to Fulham FC supporters. 

Following the announcement, critics immediately started questioning whether this is a step toward the team moving to London outright- something that national media outlets often speculate, but that the Jags ownership has continually denied. Khan says he doesn’t understand the speculation, adding that he has business deals around the country. He says the international ties for the Jags gives them international exposure, recognition, and sponsors, adding that the Jags even have full time staff in London to help handle those matters, and this deal would add more security to that operation.

Lamping says he understands that fans could be concerned, because they have long had to deal with these types of rumors. 

“We view our London game as supplemental to what we do here in Jacksonville. You know, Jacksonville drives the Jaguars, not London,” he says. 

He says Khan plans to continue investing in London and Jacksonville alike, and none of that changes with this new deal. 

“We would ask that fans continue to judge us on our actions, not based on what their worst fears might be,” he says. 

During the “State of the Franchise”, the Jags unveiled a new $2.5 billion redevelopment proposal for the Sports Complex, which includes upgrading the marina, new high-end hotels, office and residential space, and more. 

The first phase of that is envisioned as the redevelopment of the “Lot J” parking lot, adding new multi-use buildings, a live arena, and a nearby parking garage to offset the loss of spaces. This is while the team continues to negotiate with the City over the redevelopment of the Jacksonville Shipyards.

While it’s unclear right now how much the team will ask the City for as part of that proposal, Lamping made it clear it’s envisioned as a public/private partnership. He says- no matter how much wealth an investor has- they’re always looking at making the right business decision, and if a plan makes financial sense to the City, it’s natural they should be a partner. 

“That public investment is limited only to the level necessary to make the project possible, and that’s the approach we’re taking,” Lamping says. 

Another important element for Khan is that the team historically plays well at Wembley Stadium.

“We have the energy, we have the fans there, we have a full stadium there,” he says.

Khan says they saw some of that at the tail end of last year’s successful season, but they want to make sure they can secure that overseas as well. The Jags have a deal to play a game in London each of the next few seasons, and Khan hopes the League sees the impact that has on the team and continues the agreement moving forward.

The NFL UK says this proposed deal is a sign of Khan’s continued commitment to the UK market and his vision to grow the League. Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry says the team made him aware of their interest, and he sees this as a good move for the City, including building Jacksonville’s brand internationally.

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Jacksonville Jaguars owner Shad Khan is looking to buy London’s Wembley Stadium. What this means for the Jags and Jacksonville:

Posted by Stephanie Brown, News 104.5 WOKV on Thursday, April 26, 2018

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  • Jacksonville Jaguars owner Shad Khan has withdrawn his bid to purchase Wembley Stadium in London.  In a statement sent to WOKV, Khan says the intent of his effort to buy the iconic venue was to bring people together and strengthen the sport and stadium. Instead, he says opinions split, and it became clear there was no strong support for the sale at this time. “Unfortunately, given where we are today, I’ve concluded that the outcome of a vote next week would be far from sufficient in expressing the broad support favored by the FA Chairman to sell Wembley Stadium. Until a time when it is evident there is an unmistakable directive from the FA to explore and close a sale, I am respectfully withdrawing my offer to purchase Wembley Stadium”, Khan says.  The FA Council was set to vote October 24th on Khan’s offer.  At the time of his offer in April, Khan said purchasing Wembley would deliver another very significant asset and local revenue source for the Jaguars.  He issued a separate statement specifically to Jacksonville about deciding to pull out of the sale, saying the deal would have had a “much-needed positive effect” on the Jags in Jacksonville and London. “Our commitment to London would have been amplified and strengthened with the certainty of officially making Wembley Stadium an annual host to Jaguars or other NFL games, and the local revenues we would have generated operating Wembley throughout the year would have been invested in our continued efforts toward building and maintaining a sustainable NFL franchise in Jacksonville,” Khan further says it would have helped the FA invest in their sport as well. “An agreement that would have served everyone exceptionally well, and brought everyone together for shared success, was the one and only goal,” he says. The FA says they respect Khan’s decision and commit to ensuring Wembley will “continue to thrive”, but acknowledge that things will have to evolve. “There has been much deliberation on both sides of this debate and it has undoubtedly raised awareness of the issue that community football facilities in England need significant investment,” says the statement from FA Chief Executive Martin Glenn. Khan tells Jacksonville he is disappointed by these developments, but will continue to emphasize London, and the role that has in ensuring the Jags have a stable, long-term future in Jacksonville. “London as the Jaguars’ home away from home remains a priority. Downtown Jacksonville with the Jaguars serving as a catalyst in its revitalization remains a priority. The relationship between London and the Jaguars is as important as ever and we will continue to develop it to the benefit of all,” he says. And Khan further says he is willing to revisit the purchase in the future, but only if there is unity in support of the deal. Khan has invested in projects at TIAA Bank Field since taking over ownership of the team, including chipping in to projects like upgrading the Club Level, installing new video boards and pools, and building the Daily’s Place amphitheater and flex field adjoining the stadium. He also continues to negotiate with the City’s Downtown Investment Authority over the redevelopment of the Shipyards and Met Park area. Additionally, he recently unveiled plans for a massive redevelopment of the Sports Complex overall, which he envisions starting with an overhaul of what is now Lot J, used for parking.
  • The Jacksonville Jaguars hope to be able to announce plans for redeveloping Lot J by the end of the year. The team’s leadership has been working with the City for months on the project, according to Jags owner Mark Lamping, but it is even more important now, as they pursue revenue streams to help secure the team’s long-term stability in the city.  WOKV first told you Wednesday that Jaguars owner Shad Khan withdrew his plan to buy London’s Wembley Stadium, because he didn’t see the widespread support he would want for that type of venture. Lamping says the specific purpose of that deal was to bring more local revenue to the Jags, similar to other projects they have taken on, including the annual London game, Daily’s Place, and more.  “All of those projects are designed to support the Jaguars to make sure that we’re a sustainable franchise here in Jacksonville. So, the fact that it’s [Wembley purchase] not going to happen, that puts pressure on us to find other ways to generate the revenue that would have come from there, and I’m confident that we’ll do that,” Lamping says.  GALLERY: Lot J and Sports Complex redevelopment One of those projects is Lot J, or the redevelopment of an existing parking lot at TIAA Bank Field in to a mixed-use entertainment district, which could also include residential, office, or hotel space. Lamping says the team would self-operate the entertainment district, and act as landlord for other components- all providing various revenue opportunities. The Jags announced their intention to seek the redevelopment months ago, and they have since been working with the City on the proposal. Lamping says Khan is ready with financial support, but it will take a partnership with the City, and he believes they have been moving in the right direction.  “We will certainly be disappointed with ourselves if we’re not making significant progress by the end of the year,” he says.  Another project that is undergoing negotiations is redevelopment of the Northbank Riverfront, including the Shipyards and Met Park. Khan was selected as the master developer for that site, but there was a lengthy extension approved for how long those negotiations could take. Lamping says one of their sticking points continues to be the removal of the elevated Hart Bridge lanes in Downtown, which is something the Jacksonville City Council recently approved $12.5 million for. The Florida Department of Transportation has also committed $12.5 million for the project, and the City has not yet heard whether they won a federal grant for the final third of the funding.  IN DEPTH: Proposal to take down the Hart Bridge ramps GALLERY: Shad Khan’s plan for the Shipyards Overall, the Jags estimate their proposed redevelopment in and around the Sports Complex to be worth some $2.5 billion.  Lamping says they are also looking at big events, like the recent “Last of the Street Survivors Farewell Tour” featuring Lynyrd Skynyrd, which took place at TIAA Bank Field on Labor Day weekend. They continue to program the Daily’s Place amphitheater with shows that bring in revenue for the team as well.  “There is no silver bullet. If there was one thing that we could do to solidify the Jaguars here in Jacksonville, we would do it, but it doesn’t exist,” Lamping says.  But he says the team will nonetheless continue to look for more revenue opportunities to achieve that stability.  “We think it’s our responsibility to solve it. It’s not the community’s responsibility, it’s not the fans’ responsibility, it’s our responsibility to do it. And, if we didn’t think we could do it, Shad [Khan] wouldn’t be spending the hundreds of millions of dollars that he’s prepared to continue to invest,” Lamping says.  There is a lot of development that has recently moved forward in that immediate area, including the proposed redevelopment of Berkman Plaza II in to a hotel, parking, and entertainment space. Khan has also put forward a plan to kickoff the Shipyards development with a new Convention Center, although the City’s Downtown Investment Authority Board has authorized negotiations on a different proposal, which would be on the old Courthouse/City Hall Annex site.  GALLERY: Convention Center proposed for the Jacksonville Shipyards “We are focused on doing everything that we need to do, to produce a sustainable, stable franchise here in Jacksonville,” Lamping says.  He believes that will have to mean new local revenue, because football revenue alone will not bring in enough. They have nonetheless pursued avenues within the football frame as well, including adding more premium seating in the stadium, and some that also involves fan attractions, like the pools.  While they’re disappointed the Wembley deal fell through- because it was not only an independent revenue stream, but could have helped secure the team’s continued annual presence on London- Lamping says the timing wasn’t right.  “We got drawn in to the middle of, really, an internal dispute amongst the Football Association. We knew that if this project was going to be successful, that it was going to be a long-term partnership with the FA. And if you’re ever getting in to a partnership that you know if going to take a lot of give-and-take, and is going to take long-term, you better make sure that you get off on a really strong foot. And it just seemed like the seller of the stadium didn’t have all their ducks in a row,” Lamping says.  He’s nonetheless confident about the partnerships the Jags have built in London and with the NFL in the UK, and he says they will do everything they can to maintain that annual game, as a key contributor in supporting Jacksonville operations.  And for those who continue to believe that the Jags are trying to move to London outright, Lamping says Khan continues to be frustrated by that talk, and asks fans to keep looking at their actions, not speculation.  “You don’t do the type of stuff that he’s [Khan’s] doing, you don’t invest the type of money that he’s investing, if you’re planning to leave,” Lamping says.  He says Khan is prepared to invest in the next opportunity that will continue to support the team in Jacksonville, and they will continue pursuing partnerships with the City and others to achieve what’s best for the community overall.
  • The Georgia State Patrol says a man is dead after he managed to fire a weapon that he had hidden behind his back while he was handcuffed during a traffic stop on Interstate 75 in Georgia. >> Read more trending news The shooting happened at exit 293 in Cartersville, near the exit ramp to Highway 411 in Bartow County. Officials say a trooper pulled a couple over around 5 a.m. Thursday and the trooper found contraband in the car. The female driver was taken into custody. Authorities said the male passenger originally gave a false name and, at some point, the first trooper called for backup. When a second trooper arrived, the officers determined the man was a wanted parole violator who had been on the run for months, officials said. The troopers searched the man’s car for weapons and handcuffed his hands behind his back, according to investigators. >> Man carrying replica machine gun fatally shot by police, cops say The man was able to grab a weapon hidden behind his back in his pants and fired at the troopers. One of the officers was struck in the stomach, but protected by a bullet-proof vest.  The troopers shot back at the suspect, authorities said. The man was taken to the hospital and later died, according to officials.  The trooper was treated at the hospital and released.  Authorities continue to investigate.
  • JEA is working to determine the cause of a hole that opened up in downtown Jacksonville. The utility says between investigating the cause and the complex work of repairing the hole, they will need to close both directions of W. 1st Street between Rudolph McKissick Sr. Blvd and Pearl, likely for the next five days.  A spokesperson says crews will first need to remove water from the hole to determine the cause, which includes setting up a de-watering system. A wastewater bypass system will also need to be set up while the hole is being repaired.  JEA says asphalt work is slated to begin Thursday night, with excavation slated for Friday.  We're told a detour will be in effect for the area in the meantime.

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