PHOENIX – In his five years as the owner of the Jacksonville Jaguars, Shad Khan has become an integral part of the NFL Ownership. On the finance committee and chairman of the league’s business development committee, Khan is helping make policy now and shaping the league for the future.
Since his investment in the team and subsequent investment in the stadium Shad transformed Jacksonville’s stature in the league from tenuous to solid.
“I think the right word is “action speaks louder than words,” Khan said sitting near the lobby of the Arizona Biltmore between meetings. “Hard to believe when I was introduced 5 years ago that I said we were going to do everything we could to make football viable in Jacksonville. And we’ve been trying to do that. From day one, that’s what you do.”
Changes to the north end zone, the scoreboards, the clubs and the south end zone have transformed the stadium from a place you’d go to see a game to an entertainment destination. According to Shad, the competition from just staying at home in front of your TV is a battle he and his fellow owners in the NFL have to fight.
“That’s a great product a HD TV so why would somebody want to come to a game?” he explained. “ It has to be a great game day experience where you want to be there. Just about every team owner who has been there can’t believe it’s the same stadium. I think we stand up very well. We want to move the needle. And I think we are doing that.”
Creating non-football revenue is key to any franchise success according to Khan. That’s why he believes the new Daily’s Place adjacent to the south end zone is an important piece in the Jaguars’ viability. Creating events over several days surrounding a game that will attract fans from all over, not just for the game but for a whole weekend is the goal. Daily’s Place is scheduled to open on Memorial Day weekend, a tight timeline that the Jaguars owner acknowledges. In fact, so tight he admitted, the paint might not be dry.
“Probably not,” he said with a laugh. “So be careful, don’t lean on anything. There might not be paint at all. But as time goes on, it’s only going to be better and better.”
While he’s not involved in the football process, Khan is a fan and gets excited just like anybody would when his team has success. Lately that’s been limited to the offseason and 2017 is no different. The Jaguars have “won” the offseason again, a familiar spot that hasn’t translated to wins on the field.
“I had the same feeling I’ve had for the last couple of years,” he said rubbing his hands together. “Boy we did great, a whole bunch of checks got written so I’m excited that some of the players we wanted, other teams wanted and we got them. So we’re hoping for better results on the field.”
When he introduced Tom Coughlin as the new VP of Football Operations, Doug Marrone as the Head Coach and Dave Caldwell remaining as the GM, Khan said there was a “higher football IQ” in the organization with those three making the decisions. He says that has already shown itself in watching the decision making process.
“I really feel it,” Khan said of the feeling in the building these days. “I hadn’t really met Tom until this whole process started. They (Coughlin, Marrone and Caldwell) can mesh together. You can’t take three people and throw them together and always make it work. They have the age, the mindset, the culture and the personalities to really make this thing work.”
“They all bring a little different subset of knowledge,” he added. “I feel there’s a logic, a method to the madness.”
And what has he learned about Coughlin in the short time they’ve worked together?
“Passion to win. Attention to detail. Hard work. Those are elements whether you’re in football or digging a ditch. If those are your principals, you’re going to be successful.”