The National Football League’s Jacksonville Jaguars announced they will play two home games at London’s Wembley Stadium over consecutive weekends in 2020, doubling the team’s prior annual presence in the United Kingdom.
In turn, the Jaguars will become the first team in NFL history to play two home games outside of the United States in the same regular season.
In 2013, the Jaguars became effectively the NFL’s London team, signing a three-year deal to play one game annually at Wembley Stadium. That deal was renewed in 2015 for an additional four years, taking them through the 2020 season.
The opponents for the 2020 London fixtures will be released in April along with the entire NFL schedule. It is unclear if the Jaguars will play two games in London per season regularly going forward.
The six-game regular season schedule at TIAA Bank Field will be fewest number of games available for fans in franchise history. To help compensate fans for that reduction, Jaguars’ season-ticket members will receive a 50-per-cent discount on pre-season games and favorable variable pricing on the six regular-season games, which will result in an overall average ticket price reduction of five per cent. Further benefits for fans will be announced in the coming weeks.
As Wembley represents a designated “home” venue for the Jaguars when they play there, they retain the majority of the gate receipts, generating one-and-a-half to two times the revenue on a per-game basis compared to an average game in Jacksonville. Helping fuel that boost in earning power in London are higher ticket prices and a considerably-increased capacity (Wembley holds 90,000 spectators).
The Jaguars credit about 11 per cent of their “local” revenue to playing annually abroad. They expect that figure to rise significantly with two games in London.
“Our work to create new sources of revenue to help us improve our long-term outlook and commitment to operating a thriving franchise in Jacksonville will continue and never end,” said Jaguars president Mark Lamping said in a statement. “For the past seven seasons, our London strategy has been a game-changer. No single approach, including London, will answer the many challenges that are common with any market the size of Jacksonville.”
Lamping also referenced the permanent relocations of the Las Vegas Raiders, Los Angeles Rams, and Los Angeles Chargers from their prior homes, moves that at once are not something the Jaguars are pursuing but still are putting pressure on the team to boost its earning power.
“For clubs like the Jaguars, we are entering an uncertain time,” Lamping said. “That uncertain time is related to three teams that in the past were teams that were with us in the bottom of the league in terms of revenue. They have taken steps, steps that we would not consider, but they’ve taken steps to fix their revenue by leaving Oakland, by leaving St. Louis, and by leaving San Diego. That has had an impact in terms of all the other teams that are where we are in terms of the league.”
To boost team revenues further, the Jaguars are also developing the $700m Lot J project in Jacksonville, which will feature an entertainment district, a 200-room hotel, residential buildings offering 405 units and additional parking. Until then, the Jaguars are reliant on the London games to increase their finances.
“We need to continue to do more. We can’t do this overnight,” Lamping added. “These games in London will provide us with financial benefits during a much-needed time during the transition from where we are today until we open Lot J.”