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Jaguars owner looking at long-term deal to play annual game in London

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Jacksonville Jaguars owner Shad Khan would like to sign a long-term extension to have his team play an annual game in London.

Khan, speaking after the team's annual season kickoff luncheon Tuesday, said he'd be interested in signing a 14-year agreement that would kick in after the current four-year deal expires in 2016. That would mean the Jaguars would play an overseas game until 2030.

"Nothing definitive, but I'm optimistic that we'll have a renewal on that and it'll go for a long time," Khan said. "I think we would like it to be long term, like 2030, so it's been probably the No. 1 element in stabilizing the Jacksonville Jaguars.

"Hard to believe it's over, the four-year deal now, but I think it's a critical part of our franchise to be able to play games there, get the recognition, build the fan base and get sponsors."

The Times in London last month reported that Khan and the NFL already had agreed to play an annual game at Wembley Stadium through 2030. Khan's spokesman released a statement a day later that said no agreement was in place but discussions have been "frequent and promising."

The Jaguars will play their third game in London on Oct. 25 (against Buffalo) and have one more game remaining on the current contract. The deal has been beneficial to the franchise because the NFL granted the team extended territorial rights in the U.K., and the additional ticket revenue from a game at the 90,000-seat stadium has had a positive impact on the team's revenue. The team's local ticket revenue was down 18 percent in 2013 from the previous season, but adding in the London ticket revenue brought it back up to the same level. The Jaguars' domestic sponsorship revenue rose 14 percent in 2013, but that number swelled to 29 percent when the London sponsorship money was added.

Overall, London accounts for 15 percent of the franchise's local revenue, team president Mark Lamping said at a previous state of the franchise news conference. The London game counts as local revenue since it's technically a home game for the Jaguars.

"For us, London and Jacksonville is almost a great marriage made in heaven," Khan said. "I would expect the NFL may be looking at other areas, other markets to develop, but we want to have a focus and Jacksonville supplemented with London is our focus."