Jags could be forced out of stadium for two years
Mike Florio and Myles Simmons assess where else the Jags could potentially play for two years while their stadium is under renovation, and if this is an opportunity to play internationally.
MIKE FLORIO: Something I saw late last night that caught my attention, and we talked yesterday about the international schedule and the Jaguars playing two games in London for the first time ever. And Jaguars fans don't want to hear it, but if an existing team from the 32 American NFL franchises is going to go to Europe as part of a four-team division, if it's going to be anything other than four expansion teams to fill out a four-team division, the A-1 option is the Jaguars.
They've got the footprint. They've got the fan base. And now they're playing two games there this year, and I have a feeling it's not going to be the last time they play two games in London in a given year.
The question is for a period of consecutive years at some point this decade, will they be playing even more games in London because Jacksonville mayor said yesterday on 1010XL radio in Jacksonville that renovations at the stadium where the Jaguars play, as proposed, as designed, as intended, will displace the Jaguars, best case scenario, two seasons. They've got to find somewhere else to play all their games for two seasons.
I don't know of another handy football venue that would be NFL ready in Jacksonville, especially at a time when they could sell more tickets than there are seats in whatever venue there would be. I don't know how Wembley doesn't become the magnet for the entire slate of the Jaguars home games for those two years, if they go down this path. I don't know how that doesn't happen, Myles. Orlando or Wembley are the two options.
MYLES SIMMONS: Right. Yeah, Orlando with the Camping World Field-- Camping World Stadium, whatever it is, where they've played the Pro Bowl a couple of times. Yeah, it's just one of those things where it's uncomfortable probably if you are in Duval County, but I don't know what other kind of option that you would have.
I mean, it's not like-- I mean, the mayor said that, oh, the number one option would be to have the Jacksonville Jaguars play somewhere in Jacksonville, but where else are you going to have an NFL-ready facility in the same town as one where you're already renovating a stadium? That just kind of doesn't make much sense to me in my brain.
So, yeah, I'm not sure what else they would do other than maybe look to play their games either internationally or in Orlando. Or I don't know, in Tallahassee where they play Florida, but you'd have to kind of retrofit that stadium to fit NFL regulation. So it's all-- that's something that they're going to have to figure out. That's a lot.
MIKE FLORIO: They pulled it off in Minnesota because the University of Minnesota is there, and they had their own place other than the Metrodome when they had to tear down the Metrodome to build US Bank Stadium. That worked out well for the Vikings, but there is no major college program in Jacksonville. So they're going to have to leave town. They are going to have to play out of town anyway.
And now the good news would be this. If they go down that path, there's not going to be a renovation with public financing and significant input from the league and the Jaguars unless the Jaguars are committed to staying. So the short-term pain would point to long-term Jaguars are staying. But the other point to keep an eye on here is their lease expires 2029. I just think that unless this is idle talk, at some point the rubber's going to beat the road on this whole European division thing.
It's all just bluster aimed at getting people to buy tickets to the games that they're going to get as the variety pack. I remember years ago it dawning on me that what they're going to get in London is the equivalent of the eight little boxes of cereal that are shrink wrapped together that I used to love to get when I was a kid. I don't know if they had those when you were a kid, Myles, but they had them when I was a kid.
MYLES SIMMONS: I think they still have them.
MIKE FLORIO: They may still have them today. OK, but that's what you're going to get. You're going to get a variety pack. You're not going to get a home team. You're going to get eight games, you're going to get eight boxes of cereal. Little boxes of cereal, and that's going to be good enough.
At some point we got to know what it's going to be. Is it going to be a variety pack or is there going to be a team? But they keep flirting with the idea, they keep dangling that carrot to London, and maybe to Germany now. And the Jaguars I think are going to be the test case. What they do with that stadium long-term is going to tell us whether or not the Jaguars are in play to move.
And if not them, who's it going to be? It's not going to be four expansion teams, folks. Maybe it-- I don't know. Maybe it will be. Maybe that's the only solution, but that seems like a hell of a dilution. And where do you fit all those teams? What do you do? Like, just, boom, out of the blue we're going to drop four teams into the NFL? I don't think that's a reasonable solution either.
MYLES SIMMONS: Probably not, but I mean, if you take the Jaguars and you move them to London, you're going to have to have an expansion franchise here stateside in order to take that team's place, unless you totally reimagine what the divisions are, and you'd have like three team divisions and I don't know. My math is not good enough to be able to of go off the cuff and say what that would mean.
So, there's going to be-- if there's going to be a four team division that's in Europe, there's going to be some sort of expansion somewhere because you have to keep the number of teams in a way that makes sense.
MIKE FLORIO: You'd almost need to add eight teams to make it happen.
MYLES SIMMONS: Yeah.
MIKE FLORIO: And that's-- and that's-- look, I've said that the ultimate configuration of the NFL would be 40 teams, 8 divisions, 5 teams each. But if this four-team European division is ever to come to pass, the long-term vision for the NFL would be 40 teams with 10 divisions of four teams each. Now, it complicates the playoff tree, if you've got five divisions per conference. And we're getting kind of far afield here, but still it's fascinating to think about it because--
MYLES SIMMONS: You're getting very far afield.
MIKE FLORIO: But let me just say this. In how this thing is resolved with Jacksonville and this talk of a four-team division, it's going to shed light on what the hell they're doing. Right now, we don't know what the hell they're doing. And at some point, we're going to get a clue, a real tangible clue, and it may be the future of the Jaguars in Jacksonville that gives us that clue.