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Jacksonville Jaguars to play two 'home' games in London next season | Sport

The Jacksonville Jaguars will play consecutive home games in London next season, potentially strengthening the franchise’s foothold in the UK. The Jaguars will play back-to-back games at Wembley to improve revenue during “a period of significant change within the league,” the Jaguars president, Mark Lamping, said on Tuesday. The dates and opponents are yet to be confirmed.

Lamping said the recent relocation of the Chargers, Raiders and Rams will move all three out of the bottom fourth of the NFL in local revenue. Jacksonville continue to look for ways to increase their revenue.

The Jags have played a “home game” at Wembley every year since 2013 and are under contract to do so through 2020. Owner Shad Khan and Lamping expect to extend the contract. It’s unclear whether the next deal will include two games annually abroad.

“Right now, this is about two games this season,” Khan said. “I’m a big believer in you judge by actions and not just by words. We’ve talked about possibly playing two games [in London]. But we’re not the sole judge here … I think it has to make sense for the league, which ultimately decides. But right now this is just about two games this season.”

The NFL is considering moving to a 17-game, regular-season schedule under the next collective bargaining agreement, a change that could help the Jaguars and other clubs play at varying venues without penalizing fanbases accustomed to attending the same number of games a year.

Jacksonville insist that playing an extra game in London this year will help alleviate some issues involving a new development outside their aging stadium. Khan is sharing the cost of a $700m project expected to break ground this spring in the main parking lot adjacent to the stadium.

The “Lot J” proposal includes an entertainment district with restaurants, bars, luxury condominiums, an office tower and a five-star hotel.

In the meantime, the Jaguars are looking for additional revenue streams. “We need to continue to do more. We can’t do this overnight,” Lamping said. “These games in London will provide us with financial benefits during a much-needed time during the transition from where we are today until we open Lot J.”

Jacksonville, who have failed to regularly fill their stadium over the past 20 years, more than double their single-game revenue from playing overseas. Jacksonville’s ticket, television, sponsorship and stadium revenue streams are smaller than those of NFL teams in larger markets. Earning money in London helps offset some of the disparity, and the game remains a critical part of the team’s long-term plan.

While some assume that playing an additional game in London is the next step in Jacksonville moving there, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said last week before the Super Bowl in Miami that he’s skeptical about the logistics of having a permanent team overseas.

“The issue for us still is: Can we do this competitively for the team that is based there but also for the 31 other clubs?” he said. “That involves scheduling, it involves a lot of other matters that you don’t want to compromise. And until we can get comfortable on that, I don’t think we’ll be NFL-ready in London.”

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