The Jacksonville Jaguars have been sold but don't expect them to move to Los Angeles anytime soon.
Jaguars owner Wayne Weaver announced Tuesday he had sold the team to Shahid Khan, an Illinois-based businessman from Pakistan who unsuccessfully tried to buy the St. Louis Rams last season.
Weaver had been approached by Philip Anschutz and Ed Roski in the past but refused to sell his team to the two men spearheading the NFL's return to Los Angeles. Weaver was only willing to sell the team to someone committed to keeping the team in Jacksonville and he believes Khan is that man.
"He's going to buy a home here in Jacksonville. He's going to spend time here in Jacksonville," Weaver said of Khan. "He's going to keep the Jaguars management group intact. He's keeping the Jaguars staff intact. He has a great admiration for what we've been able to accomplish here and the way we run our business here so he's keeping all that intact."
Khan will formally meet with the media and the Jaguars staff before Jacksonville's Monday night game against the San Diego Chargers. The sale of the team will not be finalized until Jan. 4 following a league vote on the sale, which Weaver said he expects will be passed unanimously.
"This is going to be a team that is going to be in Jacksonville many years into the future," Weaver said. "It's going to see my grandson grow up as a Jaguars fan and many other kids as well. My dream is to see this team be successful in Jacksonville and I found an owner who has that commitment and has that passion."
While Weaver is confident Khan will keep the team in Jacksonville, there is nothing written in the deal which obligates Khan to do that. Weaver's confidence stems from assurances Khan has made to him personally and the fact that the Jaguars' lease to play at EverBank Field runs through the 2029 season. If the Jaguars wanted to leave before the end of the deal, the lease requires the team to prove they had lost money in three consecutive seasons or to convince a local judge that the city was failing to properly maintain the stadium.
"It's pretty hard to put something in writing saying you have to do something, but you have to trust individuals' integrity and I have no doubt that Shahid is going to do what he plans to do," Weaver said. "I had to be comfortable that his plan was to keep the team in Jacksonville. There's not a doubt in my mind that this team will be in Jacksonville."
"I have enough confidence in my trust in human nature in people I've gotten to know over a long period of time, that when they tell you something, you can depend on it. It's hard to write something that forces somebody to say you're going to keep the team here. The only reason I would have ever moved the team is if I couldn't make it sustain itself here and we've been able to do that and there's no reason Shahid won't be able to do that."
Weaver admitted that he was approached by the Los Angeles groups trying to acquire a team for their proposed stadiums but refused to engage in talks because he wanted the team to remain in Jacksonville.
"I've had calls from California that I refused to take because it was wasting their time and my time and they knew it," Weaver said. "People I would run into at meetings would ask about California and I would just say we have no interest. We're a Jacksonville franchise and we plan to stay a Jacksonville franchise."
Khan, who is the owner of the automobile parts manufacturer Flex-N-Gate, which Forbes says has an annual revenue of $2.57 billion, released the following statement after Weaver's press conference.
"I am honored to have recently signed an agreement with Wayne Weaver and his partners to purchase the Jacksonville Jaguars," Khan said. "I have known Wayne for some time and have long admired his spirit, which nearly 20 years ago -- against all odds -- helped make the Jaguars and the National Football League a reality for Jacksonville and North Florida. Wayne's legacy will be lasting, and I will always be grateful for Wayne's trust and confidence in my commitment to the Jaguars, the NFL and the people of the Jacksonville community."
Arash Markazi is a reporter and columnist for ESPNLosAngeles.com.