In the 2020 regular season, 25 percent of the Jacksonville Jaguars’ “home” games will be on a different continent.
The Jaguars announced Tuesday that they will be playing back-to-back home games in London’s Wembley Stadium, on consecutive Sundays.
They’ll become the first team in NFL history to play two home games in a single regular season outside of the United States.
Although the opponents for those games have not been announced yet, the Jaguars indicated that their London opponents will be neither the Pittsburgh Steelers nor the Chicago Bears. That means the Jaguars will face two of the following opponents in London: Tennessee Titans, Indianapolis Colts, Houston Texans, Detroit Lions, Cleveland Browns and Miami Dolphins.
Fear not, Jaguars season-ticket holders: You are getting a break in one way. The team announced it would offer 50 percent discounts on preseason games and favorable variable pricing on the six regular-season games in Jacksonville that will reduce the average ticket price for games by five percent. There also will be a “strong benefits package” for season-ticket holders that will be announced during the renewal process.
One step closer to moving to London?
Developments such as this will lead people to assume that the Jaguars one day will play full-time in London. Under owner Shad Khan, that speculation only has grown. Khan also owns London-based soccer club Fulham of the Premier League, which he purchased in 2013.
The Jaguars have played a game in London each season since 2013, which has helped grow the team’s brand worldwide and combat the challenges of growing the Jaguars’ franchise base in one of the league’s smaller markets.
It’s hard not to connect those dots, even though Khan for years now has said that the team has no plans to move overseas permanently.
The Jaguars have never said as much, but it’s also easy to connect the dots on the idea that moving an additional game overseas also is a way to pressure local lawmakers into approving a new stadium — with at least some taxpayer money, naturally — at some point down the road. Khan has hinted that TIAA Bank Field might need upgrading in due time.
So perhaps as a measure to reassure fans that isn’t happening
anytime soon the Jaguars have simultaneously announced bigger plans with the development of a $500 million program to stimulate local growth in downtown Jacksonville.
The “Lot J project” has been proposed to convert the parking lot next to the stadium into an entertainment district, adding a 200-room hotel, residential buildings offering 405 units and additional parking.
“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,” team president Mark 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.”
More from Yahoo Sports: