Jacksonville Jaguars Owner Makes Bid for Wembley Stadium
(Bloomberg) -- Shahid Khan, the billionaire owner of National Football League’s Jacksonville Jaguars franchise, has offered to buy Wembley Stadium, the 90,000-seat capacity venue that is home to England’s national soccer team.
A deal for the stadium would protect the Jaguars’ position in London, where his team has played regular-season games for the past five seasons, Khan said in a statement. The offer is worth about 600 million pounds ($835 million) to Wembley owner the Football Association, which will keep the income stream of 300 million pounds a year from its hospitality program Club Wembley, according to Jaguars President Mark Lamping.
Club Wembley gives members access to ticket offers and offers corporate hospitality packages at the stadium.
“The stronger the Jaguars are in London, the more stable and promising the Jaguars’ future will be in Jacksonville,” Khan said. The Football Association confirmed an offer has been received after the Evening Standard newspaper first reported the story.
England’s national soccer team plays most of its matches at Wembley, which also hosts occasional NFL games, concerts and club soccer matches. For the past season, it has also been the home of soccer team Tottenham Hotspur, whose new stadium in north London will also host NFL games when it’s completed.
Khan has sounded out government officials as well as key executives at the Football Association, who are open to the bid, according to people familiar with the matter who asked not to be identified as the details aren’t public. The Football Association would use some of the proceeds to invest in grassroots soccer clubs, they said.
Representatives for the FA didn’t respond to requests for comment outside regular business hours.
“Having stadium options in London has always been critical to the NFL and, in tandem with our 10-year partnership with Tottenham Hotspur, this new relationship would allow for even greater flexibility in scheduling future NFL games in London,” Mark Waller, the NFL executive vice-president of events and international, said.
Khan said his proposed purchase didn’t involve Fulham Football Club, a championship soccer team he owns that is currently vying for promotion to the top tier.
Rothschild is advising the Football Association, while Centerview Partners Holdings is advising Khan.
The Jaguars, led by linebacker Telvin Smith and defensive end Calais Campbell, made it to the AFC championship game last season before being eliminated. Their next game at Wembley is set for Oct. 28 against the Super Bowl-winning Philadelphia Eagles.
Jaguars’s Lamping said the team might play more than one game a season in London if the deal goes through.
“It would certainly be possible to play more than one game a season but it’s not entirely within our control,” he said in an interview. He added that the team can only play two matches a season away from its Jacksonville base without the consent of the NFL league.
Lamping also said that the Jaguars need to find new sources of revenue outside their base, and that the team derives about 12 percent of its total revenue from activities related to its one game a season in London.
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