Yesterday, the media became aware that the City of Jacksonville had notified the Jaguars that they were in default of their lease, and the termination process had been put in motion. To say the least, that’s a dire piece of news for a team that is expected to move by many in the media, and a short-lived firestorm began. The reason the news was so huge is very simple. The Jaguars’ current lease runs through 2030, and it’s the one thing that makes the Jaguars an unlikely candidate for relocation, as the Florida Times-Union estimates the cost of breaking the lease could be over $100 million.
Less than three months into Shahid Khan’s ownership of the Jacksonville Jaguars, the city requested proposals for a facility manager which was a process in clear violation of the Jaguars’ lease. Instead of declaring the City of Jacksonville in default, Shahid Khan and the Jaguars initiated the dispute resolution mechanism included in their lease. Using that mechanism, the selection process for a facility manager was amended, and life went on as usual.
That was until the Jaguars, complying with the amended selection process, advised the City of their recommendation. In response to the recommendation, the City issued a default letter to the Jaguars, putting the termination of lease process into motion.
Yesterday, Shahid Khan sent a letter to Jacksonville Mayor Alvin Brown asking for clarification from the City as to what the Jaguars did wrong and what they could do to remedy the problem. Khan expressed the belief of the Jaguars organization that the team was in complete compliance with their lease, and they could do nothing to fix a problem that didn’t exist.
It was at this point that the national media caught wind of the Jaguars’ supposed default and immediately the “Jaguars to L.A.” talk commenced in earnest. Fortunately for the Jaguars and their fans, it was all a very big, very public misunderstanding.
Mayor Alvin Brown responded last night very quickly to the situation, indicating that the City’s general counsel was unaware of the amended process for selecting a facility manager. As such, that lawyer operating as she should have. Under the old selection process, the Jaguars were in default, and she sent the appropriate letter to Shahid Khan indicating just that. As the process had been amended, the Jaguars were not in default, and Mayor Brown was able to clear the air. It was a misunderstanding. Nothing more.
The Jaguars’ lease is the biggest obstacle that keeps them from leaving North Florida. Shahid Khan’s reaction to being told his team was in default of its lease wasn’t that of a man that wants out of town. Fans of the Jaguars can rest easy. Khan and his team aren’t going anywhere in the near future.