Jacksonville Jaguars Team History
was official. On November 30, 1993, at 4:12 p.m., an incredible
four-year campaign was over. The Jacksonville Jaguars were to
be the 30th franchise of the National Football League. Jacksonville's
incredible drive actually began on August 17, 1989, when Touchdown
Jacksonville!, a partnership, was formed to lead the community
effort to win an NFL franchise. Jacksonville businessman Tom
Petway led the group.
On September 16, 1991, armed with a $60 million commitment from
the Jacksonville City Council to renovate the Gator Bowl, Touchdown
Jacksonville!, Ltd. filed an expansion application with the
NFL. The application listed a nine-member partnership that included
Petway and J. Wayne Weaver who now serves as the club's Chairman
and CEO. One of eleven cities to apply, Jacksonville was considered
by many to be the longest shot on the board. Still, that didn't
keep the Jacksonville group from confidently announcing that
the team would be named "Jaguars" if awarded one of
the two available expansion franchises.
Jacksonville survived the first round of applicant cuts, when
on March 17, 1992, at the NFL's annual winter meeting, the list
of eleven was reduced to seven. Two months later, the expansion
race was narrowed to five possible choices: Jacksonville, Baltimore,
St. Louis, Charlotte and Memphis. The remaining applicants'
spirits were somewhat dampened, however, when on October 20,
1992, the NFL owners, citing complications surrounding the ongoing
NFL labor situation, voted to delay the expansion vote until
their fall 1993 meeting. Fortunately, on January 6, 1993, the
league and its players reached a seven-year Collective Bargaining
Agreement. On March 23, 1993, the expansion race officially
The Jacksonville contingent quickly scheduled a tour of the
Gator Bowl for NFL officials, after which Touchdown Jacksonville!,
Ltd. managing general partner J. Wayne Weaver was informed that
additional renovations beyond those already planned would be
necessary to renovate the stadium to NFL standards. Unable to
come to a satisfactory solution to the stadium renovation financing
problems with the City Council, Touchdown Jacksonville!, Ltd.
announced it was withdrawing from the NFL expansion race.
However, community spirit and Weaver's sense of vision prevailed.
Less than a month after renovation financing talks broke off,
a new plan was proposed that would cap renovation costs at $121
million. Both sides agreed that $53 million would come from
city funds and $68 million from team and team-related sources.
Additionally, a committee of civic and business leaders agreed
to help by selling 9,000 club seats. Weaver, with the new public
/ private partnership, met with NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue,
who welcomed Jacksonville back into the expansion race.
The Jaguars played their first-ever game in Canton, Ohio in
the annual AFC-NFC Hall of Fame Game. Their opponent in the
pre-season classic was the NFL's other expansion franchise,
the Carolina Panthers. From the start, it was apparent that
the NFL's expansion draft and the free-agent market had allowed
both Jacksonville and Carolina to develop more quickly than
expansion teams of the past. Although the Panthers came away
with a 20-14 victory, it was obvious that both teams were ready
to compete in the NFL. The Jaguars' impressive 4-12 inaugural
season record was one win better than the NFL's previous best
for an expansion team. The Jaguars have quickly become one of
the dominant teams in the NFL and perennial playoff participants.
The team reached the AFC Championship game in 1996 and 1999.