Jacksonville Jaguars are exploring plans to build a permanent facility in London, in a move that would underline their commitment to establishing themselves as the capital’s National Football League team.
The Jags are keen to set up a training facility near Wembley to make it easier for players and staff to prepare when they come to the city for their annual fixture at the national stadium.
Officials from the Florida-based team say they have held informal discussions with Brent Council about the proposals, which include provision for community use of the facility when the NFL is not in town.
It would also give the NFL a more visible year-round presence in the capital as it ponders whether to give plans for a much-discussed permanent London franchise the green light.
The Jaguars, whose owner Shahid Khan also owns Fulham Football Club, want the training base to be as close as possible to Wembley, where they have committed to playing one match a year until at least 2020.
They are the only NFL side to play in London every year, first staged a game at the stadium in 2013 and could extend their agreement to 2025 if the NFL exercises an option with Wembley chiefs.
Jaguars president Mark Lamping has made clear that they only see the team playing at Wembley, rather than Tottenham Hotspur’s new 61,000-seater stadium, which is set to host an annual NFL game from next year.
Jags chiefs believe Wembley’s standing resonates better with a global audience. They also have concerns that using Tottenham’s home might deter sports fans with an allegiance to one of Spurs’ rivals.
The London game has proved a huge success for the Jaguars. It is designated a home fixture in the NFL season but generates far more revenue than their Florida matches.
Jags senior vice-president for international development Hussain Naqi told City A.M. in September, before the team’s most recent visit: “We very much view ourselves as London’s team and, the way we have been embraced by Londoners, we think that that is a reciprocal view.”
Despite that success, the Jaguars say there are no plans at this stage to increase the number of games transplanted to London or to move here permanently as the NFL’s first overseas franchise.