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Shad Khan: "We want to flourish here"


JACKSONVILLE – Shad Khan talked about Jacksonville a lot on Friday.

"We don't want to just exist here," the Jaguars' owner said. "We want to flourish here."

Khan, entering his fifth year as owner, also during Friday's 2016 State of the Franchise offered the following for anyone who hasn't been watching or listening for the past half-decade:

"I think it bears repeating that we plan to be here in Jacksonville."

Those were some of Khan's money quotes Friday as he and President Mark Lamping offered their annual update on the franchise's stability, and it was clear from listening to both that they like the off-field progress made in recent seasons.

Lamping on Friday talked extensively of Khan's vision and commitment to the city, commitment evident in the continued upgrades to and around EverBank Field. The team on Friday unveiled renderings of the "reimagining" of the US Assure Clubs, the new flex field at the south end of the stadium and a 5,500-seat multi-use amphitheater also at the south end of the stadium.

Those improvements will come in the wake of improvements to the locker room in the 2012 offseason, to the team's training facility in 2013 and the 2014 addition of the world's largest in-stadium video boards at either end of the stadium and a pool deck in the North End Zone.

"We've invested a lot of money, I think the city has really supported us and the results show up," Khan said. "I think USA Today had us in the top five game-day experiences, so it's not just my biased opinion. The NFL has us probably as a top experience, so I think it's redefined the game-day experience where people want to come here."

That commitment has helped silence longtime rumors of team relocation, a happening Lamping addressed Friday.

"Wasn't it wonderful for this community not to be one of those franchises rumored to be moving to Los Angeles," Lamping said, referring to the NFL's recent announcement that the Rams will return there from St. Louis.

Said Khan, "When I came here, I said I am going to do everything I can to make the Jaguars work in Jacksonville. That was closer to what I said and that's what I've done. We've had a good amount of success, but there's a long way to go."

Khan also on Friday reiterated the importance of retaining the Jaguars' presence in London. The team has played one home game at Wembley Stadium since 2013 and is under contract to continue to do so through 2020. The revenue produced from one London home game is nearly double that of a game at EverBank Field, making the Wembley game critical to the team's local-revenue equation.

"London has become a very important part of Jacksonville for us," Khan said. "A little over three years ago, when I articulated that vision, people thought we were nuts. I was grateful [NFL Commissioner] Roger Goodell and some of the owners gave us some leeway. It's been very good for the Jaguars and Jacksonville.

"I really want to see us protect what we've done. We've got a full-time staff over there and we want that to grow and really stabilize the Jaguars."

While there has been speculation of a permanent franchise in London by 2022, Khan on Friday said, "All I care about is the Jaguars right now. I am seeing where we are, the success we're having and what we have to do to protect that position."

Khan said something he doesn't see for Jacksonville again is a Super Bowl, though he and Lamping both said they like the idea of the new amphitheater perhaps being the site of the NFL Draft.

"Here in Jacksonville?" Khan said of the Super Bowl. "Absolutely not. What it takes to get Super Bowl, I think, is setting Jacksonville up for failure. I think time, money, energy is much better served on something else. For example, what they're going through in Miami. A big renovation with the Dolphins would be a great venue for a Super Bowl. I'd love to see Florida get Super Bowls, but I think Tampa and Miami are much better suited for that.

"The requirements now for hotel rooms and some of the other infrastructure amenities we don't have here, so let's not kid ourselves. I think we can have other NFL events here that we'd be well-suited for especially if we get a development south of here. The Draft would be something inspirational for us and this amphitheater.

"I am just talking the top of my head now. We want NFL involvement here, but Super Bowl is not one of them."

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