We end 2018 with a countdown of the 10 biggest stories of the year on Football Stadium Digest, as chosen by editors and partially based on page views. Today, #9: Jacksonville Jaguars owner Shad Khan‘s offer to purchase Wembley Stadium comes up short.
Had it moved forward, Shad Khan’s purchase of Wembley Stadium would have carried sweeping implications. While representing another sizable business venture for the billionaire, ownership of the facility would have created a strong tie between an existing NFL franchise and London, and change in control to one of England’s most recognized venues. However, after playing out publicly for much of 2018, Khan’s pursuit of Wembley Stadium ended when he withdrew his offer this fall, once it was clear that there was not a consensus for a sale among officials from England’s Football Association.
Under the proposal that Khan eventually withdrew, he would have paid £600 million (just under $790 million in American dollars) while allowing the FA to keep Club Wembley hospitality rights. For Khan and the NFL, the move would have had some interesting implications. A permanent relocation of the Jaguars never seemed to be in play–Khan has, in fact, made stadium renovations and potential mixed-use development part of his business plan in Jacksonville–but the club has played annual games at Wembley Stadium since 2013, and ownership of the facility would have broadened the club’s presence in Europe. The NFL, meanwhile, would see a franchise owner assume control of one London venue around the same time that the new Tottenham Hotspur Stadium–a facility tailored for NFL games, and potentially a permanent team—came on to the scene.
While it at one point appeared that Khan’s offer was gathering momentum, it was met with opposition by many FA councilors. Although proponents argued the deal would result in a revenue influx that could boost grassroots programs, many believed it would be a poor choice to turn over a major asset and effectively lose control over the facility. That prevented a true consensus in favor of a sale, and Khan announced in October that he was withdrawing his offer.
Despite the sale coming up short, it appears that Wembley Stadium remains an important venue to both the Jaguars and the NFL. The Jaguars have indicated that they want to continue playing annual games there in the future, and could serve as a strong compliment to the new Tottenham facility.
Image courtesy Wembley Stadium.
Here’s our Top Ten of 2018 to date: