Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Leaders: City Should Embrace Khan; Hope Weaver's Dedication to Stay Is Passed On

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Leaders: City Should Embrace Khan; Hope Weaver's Dedication to Stay Is Passed On

Article excerpt

Byline: Timothy J. Gibbons & Dan Scanlan

Mayor Alvin Brown hadn't had a chance Tuesday afternoon to talk with Shahid Khan, the Illinois businessman who's buying the Jacksonville Jaguars - but the mayor already knew what message he wanted to convey.

No. 1: Welcome to Jacksonville.

No. 2: Buy a house in the city. Preferably downtown.

"This is a great city," Brown said. "We want to make sure the new owner knows we love the Jaguars."

Brown said he did have a "very good conversation" with current owner Wayne Weaver sometime before the deal was announced.

Brown said Weaver assured him the Jaguars would be staying here.

"He did what was best for Jacksonville," the mayor said, a thought echoed by former Mayor John Peyton.

"Wayne Weaver has demonstrated unwavering faith in Jacksonville's ability to be a successful NFL franchise," Peyton said. "Both he and Delores have poured their heart and soul into this community, forever leaving a mark on countless lives."

Although the timing of the sale and identity of the new owner came as a surprise, most people expected the team to change hands at some point. Those who brought the Jaguars here, though, said they're happy the new owner has not announced plans to move the franchise elsewhere.

"That is wonderful," said University of North Florida President John Delaney, who negotiated the Jaguars deal as chief of staff for the late Mayor Ed Austin before becoming mayor in 1995. "I know they [the Weavers] have had a few offers and have been adamant about keeping the team in Jacksonville. But this doesn't mean we can stop showing up at the games."

Carl Cannon, who led Touchdown Jacksonville, the organization that helped convince the NFL the city was ready for a professional football team in 1993, said Weaver really meant what he said about trying to find an owner to keep the team here.

"With that said, our community really needs to rise up and rally around this guy," Cannon said, "because ultimately keeping the team here will be about winning, so he has to get a winning team on the field. …

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