JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Wayne and Delores Weaver surprised many in Jacksonville five years ago when they announced that they were selling the Jaguars to a man few in the city had heard of: Shad Khan.
Five years later, the fans now know much more about the Illinois billionaire than his iconic mustache. Khan's investments in the city and the team have become recognized on a global level.
The first time Jacksonville fans heard from Khan was at NFL headquarters in New York, a week after the announcement of the sale. He said it was a pleasant surprise that so many reporters from Jacksonville made the trip to find out more about him.
About a week later, he was approved by the NFL owners as the new Jaguars owner and opened up a little more about his vision.
“This should be like a virtual circle, where the team supports the city, the fans support the team, and both of us move on to greater heights,” Khan said in 2011.
Since then, the team has achieved some of those greater heights, including with an annual game in London. The international game has been a major revenue driver for the franchise, and now sees nearly half of Wembley Stadium filled with black and teal gear each year.
“Shad has taken it from being a southern part of American sports to an American part of international sports,” News4Jax Sports Director Sam Kouvaris said.
Khan has also been a driving force in the downtown area with grand plans for the vacant Shipyards and now under construction amphitheater and flex field at EverBank Field.
The stadium has also seen other improvements, including the addition of pools and the world’s largest videoboards and renovations to the club seats.
The only area in which Khan's investment has yet to take off is the field. But as Kouvaris pointed out, long-term success on the football side is still the owner's top goal.
“I think it's taking a little longer than he would have liked,” Kouvaris said. “I think he would have liked to win games last year and certainly this year, but if you were looking at the big picture, this team is being built as a sustainable winner long term.”
Khan said earlier this year that he is already thinking up what’s next, which could include a riverfront hotel to keep the progress moving toward making the area the center of the city and solidifying it for the future.