Sometimes, as a football blogger, it's difficult to see past what's good for the Jaguars and the players on the team. By getting so wrapped up in the draft, free agency and games played by a collection of 53 players, it becomes easy to forget that they represent a city and that the prosperity of that city also influences the long-term success of the franchise in that area.
When the Jaguars announced Tuesday that they would spend one home game in each of the next four seasons in London, my immediate reaction was to think of the positive results that could stem from the decision for the Jaguars. However, the aim of the international series, featuring the Jacksonville Jaguars at the helm of the project, is also very much a goal to create a better Jacksonville.
While the city of Jacksonville will lose one Jaguars game per season in each of the next four years, they will also get Shahid Khan parading the city and the business that it offers to an international audience.
"Last year, Florida welcomed 1.3 million visitors from the United Kingdom, and they spent about one billion dollars during their visit to our state," Florida Lieutenant Governor Jennifer Carroll told reporters at Tuesday's press conference. "This highlight and showcase of the Jacksonville Jaguars on the international scene further creates additional opportunities for tourism in our state and the Northeast Florida area."
While tourism from the UK is one goal, selling the world on the use of the Jacksonville ports are another that could possibly help the city on an even larger scale. As Carroll noted, "Our ports are getting ready for the Panamax, the largest ships, and Jacksonville's port is definitely one of those we are engaged in and dredging and expanding and making sure that for our international trade, we are poised and positioned for that."
Khan, a businessman worth an estimated $2.5 billion, has used the Jacksonville ports himself and in February called them "world class deep-water ports" that are underutilized.
The goal of the four-year international series in London is not only to make the Jaguars Florida's team, but also make the city of Jacksonville Florida's city. Goals that are both integral to the long-term success of the franchise in Jacksonville.
"It's beyond the game," NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said. "There will be greater focus on this community and this franchise by our broadcast partners, by our sponsors in the UK, in promoting both of them, the team and the community. I think you'll see more of a business relationship between our sponsors and our partners. Hopefully fans will be travelling back and forth between both communities as we build loyalty for the Jaguars and the UK."