The Jacksonville Jaguars announced Tuesday that the National Football League franchise was sold to the highest bidder, an Illinois business man named Shahid Khan, for $760 million.
The team old owner, Wayne Weaver, sold the team to the Pakistani mogul because he wanted a buyer who would keep the team in Florida, as opposed Los Angeles, which currently has no team.
Khan, who made his fortune by owning Flex-N-Gate Group, an equipment-manufacturing conglomerate, apparently promised to do just that.
“[I had to] find someone who has the same passion about football in Jacksonville as we do,” said Weaver during a news conference.
“Passion” is necessary for owning the struggling team, which has been buying tickets to their own games to avoid blackouts. Because Jacksonville is one of the smallest markets in the NFL, the Jaguars were estimated by Forbes to be worth only $725 million.
In addition, the entrepreneur used $350 million of debt to finance the team.
Several factors besides owning an NFL team could have guided Khan to make the deal, however.
First, Disney-owned ESPN signed a new $15 billion contract with the NFL, giving the league 73 percent more profits than the previous contract did. This could have goaded Khan to make the deal, because football has been making more money since the first deal in 2006.
The next reason also addresses possible profits for Khan. The Jaguars are locked into an airtight lease on EverBank field that expires 2027, which Weaver signed to make sure the team did not leave Florida. However, if projections for moneymaking potential are high enough in Los Angeles, Khan could pay a huge sum to get out of the lease, pay the NFL to move the team, and make all the money back in a new city.
It is certainly feasible that Khan could do so. He also tried to buy the St. Louis Rams in 2010, but was beat out by Stan Kroenke for the $750 million deal.
All this time, the demand for a team in Los Angeles has been growing. The Rams and Raiders left in 1994, and the city of 3.8 million has not seen a team since.
“I’ve had calls from California that I’ve refused to take,” said Weaver to the press. “This team is going to be in Jacksonville many years into the future.”
To cement the sentiment in Weaver’s mind and Jacksonville’s public eye, Khan has bought a home in Jacksonville, and said, “This is a franchise with tons of potential, playing in a community that is passionate about football and loves to win,” in a statement. “I can’t think of a better place to be [than Jacksonville].”