Jacksonville Jaguars owner Shad Khan is in negotiations to buy London’s iconic Wembley Stadium, a move that would solidify the NFL’s presence in the United Kingdom, but would not — according to Khan — jeopardize the Jaguars’ future in Jacksonville.
Khan has made an offer of more than £500 million — about $700 million in U.S. currency — to purchase Wembley, which has an NFL-esque capacity of 92,000. Khan’s deal would mark the first time the stadium came under foreign ownership.
A stadium with the capacity and amenities of Wembley would seem to fit neatly into the NFL’s plans to establish a stronghold, and perhaps even a future franchise, in London. The funds raised from the sale, according to the Daily Standard, would go toward building 1,500 all-weather soccer fields — “pitches” in the local parlance — across the country to replace natural-grass ones.
The sale still must pass muster with several local governmental organizations, but the Football Association, the governing body for soccer in England, which owns the stadium, has expressed significant optimism about the prospects of a sale.
Khan issued a statement on the negotiations:
Here is Jaguars owner Shad Khan's statement regarding his offer to purchase Wembley Stadium. He says it would help ensure the team's "long-term promise for the Jaguars here in Jax." https://t.co/b6ZR1X548O pic.twitter.com/FIIcnObMu4
— Michael DiRocco (@ESPNdirocco) April 26, 2018
The statement reaffirms the Jaguars’ commitment to Jacksonville, but notes that the purchase of Wembley “would further strengthen our investment in London, which as everyone knows is crucial to the Jaguars’ continued sustainability in Jacksonville.” In other words, the Jaguars can remain in Jacksonville provided the city is willing to share custody of the team with London.
“Today’s news changes none of what we envision for the long-term promise for the Jaguars here in Jax, and it changes nothing as to the goals we have for your downtown,” Khan said. “If anything, today’s news is the embodiment of the ethos we adopted several years ago of being proud, bold and committed.” Khan signed off by noting that the Jaguars would have an NFL draft pick “very late this evening,” a nice touch for the fans.
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