The NFL announced that the Jacksonville Jaguars will play two games at Wembley Stadium in London, England in 2020. Both London games will be played in back-to-back weeks by the Jags at a date to be named later.
The Jaguars will only play six games this upcoming season at TIAA Bank Field in Jacksonville. The income for London games is twice as much as one game in Jacksonville.
The Jaguars played at least one regular season game at Wembley Stadium in London since 2013. Since their first appearance on British soil, the Jaguars became the de facto home team in London. That’s the simple origin story of the London Jaguars moniker.
Despite the rumors and speculation, billionaire owner Shad Khan assured everyone that the Jaguars aren’t moving to London any time soon. The NFL has a special affinity for London and would love to plant a franchise there someday. But all parties emphatically expressed not any time soon. Back in November, the NFL squashed the Chargers to London rumor.
While the real focus should be on the Jags’ quarterback battle between Gardner Minshew and Nick Foles, fans lost their minds on social media since the announcement.
NFL London History
The NFL played its first game in London in 2007 when the New York Giants defeated the Miami Dolphins. The NFL played at least one game per year across the pond since then. A second game was added in 2013. The NFL expanded its London schedule to four games in 2017.
The Jaguars played their first game in London at Wembley Stadium in 2013.
“If you go back when the first game was announced and, really historically, what that’s done for the city and done for the Jaguars, so my expectation is that it should be very positive,” said owner Shad Kahn. “Everything we’re doing helps the city, helps us, and that’s what you need a small-market team to do to get on a competitive footing with all the resources you need to compete with the other big-market teams.”
Kahn sunk his own money into developing Lot J with the city of Jacksonville. Despite his hefty investment in Jacksonville’s development around the stadium, fans are irate about losing a second game to London.
“We’re not the sole judge here or the decision maker,” said Kahn. “I think it has to make sense for the league, which they ultimately decide. Right now, this is just about two games this season.”
The NFL has a contract with Wembley Stadium through 2020. A new contract for London games will be negotiated after the collective bargaining agreement between the league and players is complete.
London Jaguars Conspiracy
The Jags had one of the worst attendances in the league when the NFL made the decision to permanently play one game per season in London. Other teams, including terrible ones like the New York Jets and Buffalo bills, declined to play in London because they are selling out stadiums. However, even great Jaguar squads were unable to put bodies in seats.
The northeast region of Florida love football, but it’s the college game that the locals fancy, not the NFL. Jacksonville is located on the Georgia and Florida state line. The stadium was initially constructed to house the annual Georgia-Florida football game. Jacksonville hosts a massive party that weekend that rivals Mardi Gras and St. Patrick’s Day.
When locals failed to support the Jags, the NFL took notice. The Jags were always rumored to be on the move to Los Angeles or San Antonio. Once the Jags agreed to play in London every year, the London conspiracy theory was born. It’s the proverbial grassy knoll for NFL truth seekers.
For now, the London Jaguars will play two home games in London with six more back in the tropical colonies.
Maybe next year it will be three games, then four in 2022, and so forth until the Jags finally migrate to London, with only the home opener played in Jacksonville for old time’s sake.
For now, it’s two games.