JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Jacksonville Jaguars owner Shad Khan was visibly annoyed Thursday night about speculation that his potential purchase of Wembley Stadium means he is planning to relocate his NFL franchise to London.
Khan said this was purely a business move designed to provide additional revenue that will in fact help strengthen the team's future in Jacksonville and that nobody should read anything more than that into it.
"I can't understand why it was a bombshell, OK?" Khan said during a news conference at EverBank Field hours before the NFL draft. "I have business deals, investments all over the world. So I don't understand. Every time there's a transaction that has visibility, especially you folks [the media] start connecting dots that shouldn't be connected."
Khan's purchase of Wembley would add significant additional revenue -- such as food and beverage sales and suite revenue -- and the team would save money because it would not have to pay rent for its annual home game in London. In addition, Jaguars president Mark Lamping said there were approximately 30 non-NFL games or events held at Wembley and that additional revenue would help financially stabilize the Jaguars in Jacksonville.
The Jaguars have played a home game at Wembley Stadium annually since 2013 and will do so through the 2020 season. The deal has been beneficial to the franchise because the NFL granted the team extended territorial rights in the United Kingdom, and the additional ticket revenue from a game at the 90,000-seat stadium has had a positive impact on the team's local revenue.
London is an important part of the team's stability in Jacksonville (the revenue from that annual home game accounts for 11 percent of the team's total local revenue), and Khan said there were no plans at this time to play any additional games in London each season.
"No more than what they are today or they were yesterday," Khan said. "Just remember and please recall, just when we had the state of the union here [last week] and what was talked about. Go back and look at the tape. Go back six years ago and look at what we talked about. Look at some of the stuff behind us [at EverBank Field]. The [video] boards, the pools, next door [at Dailey's Place amphitheater] the sounds you hear [are part of] what did we do to make football, NFL viable in Jacksonville.
"We're the smallest franchise in the NFL. We have very unique demographics. There are more non-Jaguars fans in Jacksonville than Jaguars fans. It's a fact of life. So instead of complaining about it, we want to be proactive [and] do something about it and be at the cutting edge of a franchise that can win games and have a great experience."
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell told ESPN on Thursday night during an interview before the draft at AT&T Stadium that the league is "still a ways off" from potential NFL expansion in London.