JACKSONVILLE – This was an angry, frustrated inbox.
That's understandable, because the Jaguars on Tuesday announced they will play back-to-back home games at London's Wembley Stadium in 2020. Many fans are unhappy about the news, which was to be expected. Many fans are frustrated, and that also was to be expected.
This will be an all-London-all-the-time O-Zone, which obviously was to be expected.
Let's get to it …
Kevin from St. Johns, FL
Perception is always a big thing. I understand why games go to London (Still think two is really stretching it.) But what I am not seeing is a statement that this temporary and we intend to bring the games back to Jacksonville. Building the international fan base is great, but it is the JACKSONVILLE Jaguars. Are the games gonna come back?
There was no "statement" on Tuesday calling two London games temporary, but Jaguars President Mark Lamping and Owner Shad Khan addressed this issue during a conference call with local media. Lamping explained that the second London game is a way to maintain local revenue as the team and city develop the Lot J project adjacent to TIAA Bank Field. That project is expected to significantly help the team's local revenue – which is a huge reason for the London games – but the project will take upwards of three years. As Lamping put it Tuesday, when the transition from "Lot J as a vision" to "Lot J as reality" is complete, the team can then reassess its London initiatives. Lamping made a point to say that in a constantly changing NFL landscape, it's difficult to know what the financial situation will be in three years. Are the London games going to come back to Jacksonville? Time will tell, but Lamping left the possibility open.
Rob from Jacksonville
The correct decisions are not always popular decisions.
Tommy from Springhill
I know this announcement isn't going to be received well. As someone who grew up in Jacksonville and watched as the NFL used us to get better deals from their cities, I am grateful for an owner who is going to such great extremes to help sustain the NFL there. If his intention was to move the team to London or anywhere else, he would have attempted to do it by now. Khan has done so much for this city already and Lot J can be a game changer. I would be grateful for the opportunity to go to six games a year. Memphis, San Antonio and St Louis don't have that luxury. Everybody please relax ... am I wrong here?
You are not wrong. Khan has worked – and continues to work – to find ways to keep the Jaguars competitive in a rapidly changing NFL, and to keep the Jaguars in Jacksonville. The recent moves of the Raiders, Rams and Chargers into state-of-the-art revenue-producing stadiums has moved the Jaguars further down the local-revenue equation. As Lamping put it Tuesday, the Jaguars are treading water in that metric. Should they continue to do that, they will drown as the rest of the NFL teams continue to increase their local revenue. That's not sustainable in the NFL. London is a short-term solution to the problem. The hope is that Lot J and the Shipyards can be part of a permanent solution. This is a complex issue that's not explainable in one paragraph, but you're right that Khan's doing what he can to keep this team here and allow it to thrive in the long-term. The unhappiness of many fans doesn't make that untrue.
Michael from Middleburg, FL
O, All the complaining of two London games aside, what do the players think and feel about it? And what effect do you think that it will have on possible free agency.
Players probably won't love it because not all players love the idea of playing in London. But the idea that it's going to hurt the Jaguars in free agency has been terrifically overblown since Tuesday's announcement – and it's certainly unlikely to hurt because of taxes. Higher London taxes impact only a few of the most-highly paid players, and its effect on those players is minimal. A player loses more from, say, a road game in California than from a game played in London. Bottom line: Because the Jaguars play in a non-state-tax state – Florida – they are and will remain one of the NFL's least-taxed franchises for players.
Art from Orange Park, FL
This organization is a joke. They can move the remaining six home games to London for all I care.
This was a common reaction Tuesday. It's also a fair reaction considering the emotion of the moment. The good news for Jaguars fans and Jacksonville is Khan has no intention of moving. This is a business decision made with the idea of strengthening the city and the Jaguars. That's a lofty goal, and lofty goals often require long-term vision that isn't understood by the masses in the short term. This is such an occasion.
Andy from Alpheretta, GA
Zone, I get it, change is scary and being different is weird. But I really, really appreciate Khan and Lamping both thinking outside the box AND acting on it. They could just take the approach of raising ticket prices to an obscene level and then blaming the fans for not supporting the team. And they could also not care at all about Downtown Jacksonville. And just so I'm clear, the two best home games are still in Jacksonville, I only need to buy six games worth of tickets and the overall price per game is going down, right? I'm confused what there isn't to like.
Hey, one fer Khan and Lamping …
Dane from Jacksonville
I have lost all trust in Khan for this London scandal. It is obvious by his actions that he cares nothing for this city nor its loyal fans. Given his refusal to hold anyone in the front office to a winning standard and his refusal to put together a winning organization, it is obvious he is deviously attempting to alienate fans so he can justify moving more games to London under the guise of "financial viability." Jacksonville deserves better than what that "Khan artist" is giving us. What a disgrace this organization is from top to bottom.
… and one not fer Khan and Lamping.
Nicholas from Rockville
Lamping sidestepped the question if Lot J would discontinue the two London games. After all, there is always more things to build. In my opinion, the apathy and distrust the Jaguars are creating will eventually move the team. In your opinion, what comes first the London Jaguars or Jacksonville getting all of their home games back?
Neither. I anticipate the Jaguars playing at least one home game in London for the foreseeable future, and I do not anticipate them moving to London. Khan is trying to partner with the city and Cordish Companies on projects worth close to $1 billion to develop downtown Jacksonville; Khan is investing significant money in this movement. He's not doing this to move the team. He's doing this because he sees it as a way the Jaguars can keep pace with the rest of the NFL.
David from Maplewood, NJ
Your inbox must be literally on fire. Well, this should be fun. My only criticism was Mr. Khan's comment that the fan base won't react negatively. Say what?
Gabe from Chapel Hill, NC
Jacksonville is viable. It's just not as profitable as Khan wants it to be, and he's throwing the fans - particularly season ticket holders - under the bus because of it.
That's a common perception. The Jaguars' belief is that Lot J and the Shipyards and other improvements are necessary to make this perception correct. Is there a disconnect between their vision and the opinions of many fans right now? Yes. Here's hoping that disconnect becomes less pronounced and frustrating over time.
Jeffrey from Atlantic Beach, FL
Jags fans are being punished for the ownership's inability to put a quality product on the field. Seems like a great way to generate loyalty.
I know what it feels like, but that's not what this is. Winning would undoubtedly help the bottom line, but not enough that the team wouldn't have to find creative, outside-the-box ways to increase revenue.
Bryan from Egg Harbor, NJ
Two home games in London? This is ridiculous. One of them should have been an away game.
The Jaguars are playing two home games in London because playing home games there significantly increases local revenue. Playing away games there does not have nearly the financial benefit.
Craig from San Diego, CA
As a resident of "America's Finest City," I know a thing or two about what a franchise leaving town and an owner that doesn't care about the community looks like. This isn't it.
Sometimes people who know a thing or two know as much as they think they know. This is one of those times.