New Jaguars owner Shad Khan tried to buy the St. Louis Rams in 2010. Now that he owns the NFL team that plays in Jacksonville, Khan quickly has become fully committed to his home away from home of Urbana, Illinois.
“I’m in training to be Jacksonville’s No. 1 salesperson,” Khan told roughly 1,000 attendees at a JAXUSA Partnership luncheon on Friday, according to David Bauerlein of the Florida Times-Union.
Khan made his fortune via Flex-N-Gate, which manufactures metal and plastic automotive components. And his business has required him to travel extensively to other countries.
He continues to hope to take the Jaguars to a different country, albeit temporarily. And with the Rams planning to play a home game in each of the next three seasons and with the Jaguars under the current scheduling formula due to play a game at St. Louis in 2013, that game could be played at Wembley Stadium.
“I think the Jaguars are a powerful tool to introduce somebody to Jacksonville,” Khan said. “Have them come to the game. Have them come to the city and discover it the way I’ve discovered it. Nothing could be more powerful.”
Though cynics may wonder whether Khan is merely trying to ingratiate himself to the folks who will be asked to buy tickets to a stadium that, if Khan has his way, will be shedding its tarps, Khan surely realizes that, by helping Jacksonville, he helps his team. If Jacksonville can be boosted by the arrival of new businesses, the base of potential ticket-holders and suite-purchasers will grow.
And while some of our friends in Jacksonville think that we “hate” the city and/or the team because we acknowledge from time to time the possible connection between chronic struggles to sell tickets and relocation to a city where it won’t be such a challenge, I personally like Jacksonville. I’ve been there twice, for a pair of Gator Bowls. And Khan’s attitude could effect positive change there.
Besides, it would be unwise to bet against Khan. He built a company that landed at No. 168 in Forbes’ most recent rankings, with more than $2.5 billion in annual revenues. Though that doesn’t qualify him to make football decisions, it puts him in excellent position to make business decisions aimed at building up his team and the city in which it plays.
In time, Khan could be the best thing that ever happened to the Jaguars. And maybe one of the best things to happen to Jacksonville.