[Note by River City Rage, 07/09/08 10:56 PM EDT ]UPDATE: The Florida Times-Union has their article posted on the potential sale of the Jaguars. They add this painful piece to the puzzle.
Metropoulos, according to the report, is interested in a 100 percent purchase of the Jaguars immediately, though unnamed sources told the paper he would keep Weaver on for two years while he learns how to operate an NFL franchise. The sources told the newspaper that Metropoulos would bring in minority partners with him, and that the Jaguars would be a candidate to move to Los Angeles, which is seeking an NFL team.
The key part of this is the "keep Weaver on for two years" part. The LA Stadium, as currently planned, would not be complete until 2011. Infer from that what you will. Also, some have noted the significance of Metropoulos using the first person "I" when denying the interest in the team. Is he giving himself "wiggle room" if the story changes, or is he shutting down a rumor. There is plenty of room between the lines.
A representive for the Jacksonville Jaguars said that Wayne Weaver would be availble tomorrow.
[Note by River City Rage, 07/09/08 7:48 PM EDT ]UPDATE: Galatioto Sports Partners, the firm that according to Domowitch may be helping the Weavers in selling the team, is the same firm that was hired last summer to assist in finding a naming rights sponsor for the stadium. Unless the firm found more than the Jaguars are looking for, this story might have more to do with naming rights and less than an outright sale. More to come as we find out.
The Philladelphia Daily News is reporting that the Pittsburgh Steelers and Jacksonville Jaguars are both "close" to finalizing deals for the sale of the majority stake in the teams.
Paul Domowitch Reports:
And in Jacksonville, Jaguars owner Wayne Weaver, who has been shopping his team for a while now, appears to be getting closer to finding a buyer, the Daily News has learned. According to several league sources, Weaver is negotiating to sell the Jags to billionaire C. Dean Metropoulos.
Metropoulos, 61, is the former chairman and chief executive officer of New Jersey-based Pinnacle Foods, which is the parent company of food brands such as Duncan Hines, Armour, Vlasic and Mrs. Paul's. Metropoulos sold Pinnacle last year for more than $2 billion.
Contacted today by the Daily News, Metropoulos denied being involved in any discussions to buy the Jaguars.
"I must tell you I haven't had any such discussions," he said. "I wouldn't know how to give you any credibility to that because I don't know anything about it."
Several credible league sources disputed that, though. They said the discussions between Weaver and Metropoulos are being brokered by Sal Galatioto of the New York sports investment firm Galatioto Sports Partners. Galatioto has brokered the sale of several professional sports franchises over the years, including the Washington Redskins and the Phoenix Suns.
If Metropoulos buys the Jags, it probably won't bode well for the city of Jacksonville. The Jaguars, who entered the league as an expansion franchise in 1995, have been one of the teams that have been most often mentioned as a candidate to eventually relocate to Los Angeles. They've struggled for years to sell out their games at Jacksonville Municipal Stadium, and Weaver recently laid off several members of his marketing staff to save money
Unfortunately for the fans and supporters of the Jaguars community, little in the way of information about this potential deal will surface until the signitures are wet on the contract.
ESPN and the rest of the mainstream sports pundits are going to assume now that the Jaguars are on the midnight train to LA, even though they sitll have no serious plan for a stadium. Sure there's that one in the works, but it's hardly a sure thing. Rumor and speculation will drive us crazy though.
There is one sure-fire way to send a message to Wayne Weaver, and that would be to sell out the season tickets as soon as possible. The Jaguars recently launched their yearly "Please buy tickets ASAP" advertising blitz, which means that as of July, there's still season tickets available. Which is typically not a good thing, especially when the team is coming off of a playoff season and has huge expectations for sucess this season.
Frankly speaking, this is very troubling. Despite the fact that nobody within the Jaguars or Mr. Metropoulos has said a word about these discussions, leaks tend to happen for a reason. If it's NFL league officials that are getting the information that seeps out to the press then there is more than likely a coordinated campaign to send a message somewhere. While there is no doubt that a low-level official might say something to a reporter for a favor, intreague like this is part of a media strategy.
We'll keep our ear to the ground for more information.