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If the soon-to-be-former owner of the Jacksonville Jaguars is to be believed, Los Angeles can scratch that team off the list of NFL franchises it is looking to lure to the nation’s No. 2 market.
The Jaguars announced Tuesday that they have been sold to Pakistan native Shahid Khan, owner of auto-parts maker Flex-N-Gate Group, for a reported $760 million. Wayne Weaver, who is selling the team, told reporters he sought a buyer committed to keeping the Jaguars in northern Florida.
“I’ve had calls from California that I’ve refused to take,” Weaver said during a news conference. “[I wanted to] find someone who has the same passion about football in Jacksonville as we do.”
Weaver said Khan, now based in Illinois, will buy a home in Jacksonville. “This team is going to be in Jacksonville many years into the future,” Weaver said.
The sale is subject to the approval of NFL owners. If it goes through, Khan would become the second NFL owner (after Minnesota’s Zygi Wilf) born outside North America. He nearly purchased the St. Louis Rams in 2010.
“This is a franchise with tons of potential, playing in a community that is passionate about football and loves to win,” Khan said in a statement. “I can’t think of a better place to be.”
The Jaguars, who also fired coach Jack Del Rio on Tuesday, have been beset by low attendance, play in the league’s third-smallest market and have the lowest franchise value. That has triggered talk that they could move to the lucrative Los Angeles market, which has competing plans to build stadiums in downtown L.A. and the city of Industry.
The Jaguars’ stadium lease with Jacksonville runs through 2027.
Los Angeles has been without an NFL franchise since the Rams and Raiders departed following the 1994 season.
With the Jaguars apparently staying put, the Minnesota Vikings, San Diego Chargers, Oakland Raiders and Rams are the most likely teams to move to Los Angeles.
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