JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – In his fourth year as the Jaguars owner, Shad Khan can look around the stadium and see what has changed. Scoreboards, pools, chalets, suites and a host of other changes have been put into effect since the ownership change.
Apparently other NFL owners have noticed as well.
"When the other franchises visit, they can't believe it's the same stadium," Khan said after the annual "Back to Football" luncheon in the Terrace Suites. "You've got to keep innovating, keep moving forward. With what's going on in Atlanta and other places, you have to keep up."
Khan also confirmed plans for a permanent practice facility that will include an indoor field situated on the current stadium campus south end.
"Incorporating what's already there, making it almost an extension of the stadium," Khan said of his plan. "But it'll be a multi-use facility. It has to be suitable for pregame tailgating and other events. It'll have a unique look. It'll be mostly our money." The Jaguars owner said he's giving the City Council and the Mayor a "sneak preview" and expecting the city to continue to be a partner in the project. "I'd like it very much to be done before next year. It'll be very much a destination. I'd like it to raise the bar. "
Regarding the Shipyards, Khan said he thought, when asked about how the deal is playing out. "It's a process that's moving. It has to go through a process."
He's waiting for the city to continue to move forward on the deal he's proposed but said if they want somebody else to do it, "I'm all for it." At this point, Khan's idea has gotten the approval of the Downtown Investment Authority but the revenue streams and the involvement of the city, state and federal governments in the initial cleanup is still being worked out. The price tag to make the site viable for a new project to start is about $35 million.
In the meantime, Khan reiterated that his commitment to Jacksonville remains strong and the London game has made the Jaguars a viable, sustainable franchise. "For us, London and Jacksonville is almost a marriage made in heaven. We want to have a focus and Jacksonville supplements with London is our focus." Khan says the amount of sponsorship available in London and the excitement of the fans there has created a revenue stream for the Jaguars that he wants to continue. "I can see extending the deal to 2030," he confirmed. "Fourteen years is a good number."
"It's been the number one element in stabilizing the Jacksonville Jaguars. I think it's a critical part of our franchise to play games there, have the fan base and get sponsors."
Expect that announcement to come sometime while the Jaguars are in London to play the Bills on October 25th.
When asked about the football team, Khan said he's very pleased. "You can see the growth and the potential we have. We're building something." And when asked how he measures Gus Bradley's progress as a head coach, Khan said it was simple. "You can see we're a better team than we were three years ago."
"It would have to be something really good," Khan explained when I asked him about the talk of changing the preseason from four games preceding a 16 game regular season. "We talk about everything (in the owner's meeting) but there's hasn't been much talk about that."
While the Jaguars aren't mentioned as a possible tenant in Los Angeles as San Diego, Oakland and St. Louis are. But there's a rumor that Khan and other Jaguars representatives had met with San Diego authorities. Khan dismissed it, calling it a "rumor."
"What I want to be addressing something that I talked about three and a half years ago here. And that's my commitment to a viable franchise in Jacksonville. It's a public private partnership and it's been everything we could have asked for and more."
I asked Shad how his new boat was working out after the first year. "Fabulous," he quickly said with a big smile. "In fact it's worked out so well I'm missing that it's not here right now." Khan has parked his "Kismet" in front of the Hyatt on the St. Johns in the past and said he'll probably do that again this fall.
"It'll probably be here around October 1st."