JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The Jaguars will play a second home game in London in 2020 to help boost revenue and navigate the challenges of playing in a small market, owner Shad Khan and team president Mark Lamping said on Tuesday morning.
The two games in London is, for now, a one-year plan only, Khan said, as the Jaguars wrap up the last of their multi-year contract for games there. Lamping said that the opponents have yet to be determined, but games against the Steelers and Bears have both been protected, and those will remain in Jacksonville.
The London games will come on back-to-back weeks, marking the first time an NFL team has done that. Further points of emphasis on Tuesday: the impact of Lot J in the team’s future and the Jaguars beginning the exploratory phases for what’s next for TIAA Bank Field.
Lamping said that the team and the city have begun the process to evaluate the stadium — updates, upgrades — which would take roughly 12 months. He thought that after planning and architectural oversight, the team and the city would have something to work with over the next 36 to 48 months.
Lot J, a $500 million project that Khan has spearheaded, would create a hub in the downtown area with a hotel, residential buildings and an entertainment district. Lamping mentioned how integral that project was to the Jaguars.
“First, I want to make it clear that our first priority is winning, and anything we do or say away from that will never be more important than giving Jacksonville a team that wins and the community can be proud to call its own,” Khan said. “We are committed first and foremost to winning, and that commitment drives me and everyone at the Jaguars every day.
Khan and Lamping both cited revenue concerns, and the moves of three franchises — Oakland moving to Las Vegas and San Diego and Los Angeles both moving into the brand-new shared facility in Inglewood, Calif. — as reasons to look outside the box to bolster revenue. Those teams were in the league’s lower quartile, along with the Jaguars, and all will see their local revenue boom with moves.
London games have been a major revenue boost for the Jaguars since they began playing one game a season there in 2013.
The Jaguars’ plan to boost revenue at home, notably when the Lot J plans come to fruition, has a major tie to moving forward in London, Lamping said.
“We will be in a much stronger position [locally] when Lot J opens up …,” Lamping said. “I think it will put us in a position where we can step back and reevaluate what role London could and should play. I think that’s the time to do that evaluation."
Lamping said that prices for season ticket holders would go down by 50% for preseason games and 15% overall from what they paid in 2019.
“Our work to create new sources of revenue to help us improve our long-term outlook and commitment to operating a thriving franchise in Jacksonville will continue and never end,” Lamping said. “For the past seven seasons, our London strategy has been a game-changer.
"No single approach, including London, will answer the many challenges that are common with any market the size of Jacksonville. However, playing two games in London at Wembley Stadium, where we have outstanding relationships, at least next season and perhaps in future years during construction, will help us bridge the gap between now and when we expect the Lot J development to open. Jacksonville’s potential is unlimited, and I am confident we can realize it, with the Jaguars serving as the catalyst.”
On Tuesday night, the Bold City Brigade, an organized group of Jaguars fans, posted a statement on Twitter, saying it “vehemently opposed” the decision to “take a second home game from the city of Jacksonville.”
Khan said his expectation is that the decision should be positive.
“Everything we’re doing helps the city, helps us, and that’s what you need a small market team to do to get on a competitive footing with all the resources you need to compete with the other big market teams,” he said.
While the Bears and Steelers games will remain in Jacksonville, the Jaguars’ London opponents will come from the grouping of Cleveland, Detroit, Houston, Indianapolis, Miami and Tennessee.
Uncut: Mark Brunell gives his thoughts on the Jaguars playing two games in London