On the evening of November 30, 1993 it was official: the largest city in Florida would be the future home to the 30th team in the NFL. The decision of the NFL ended four years of competition about two new franchises. During this time, Jacksonville transformed from an underdog to a serious competitor. All the more, the residents of Jacksonville are now proud on their team.
In August 1989, Tom Petway, a business man from Jacksonville, founded the union “Touchdown Jacksonville!” which had the goal to bring an NFL team to Jacksonville. The committee secured the assurance of the city authorities, to renovate the “Gator Bowl”, a football stadium that already existed in the northern metropolis of Florida. The path for the candidacy was free.
Among the eleven candidate cities, Jacksonville was given little chance by most experts, especially because Florida already had to two teams with the Miami Dolphins and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. However, these opinions did not stop the committee from conducting a fan contest for the evaluation of the team name already in 1991. In December 1991 it was announced that the team should get the name Jacksonville Jaguars.
In early 1992, the list of the eleven candidate cities was first reduced to seven, then to five: Baltimore, St. Louis, Memphis, Jacksonville and Charlotte. The decision was obviously difficult for the NFL team owners: They postponed the decision. Meanwhile, daunting problems built up in Jacksonville: It was found that a renovation of the “Gator Bowl” would be much more expensive than originally planned. Between the city and the applicant association, it came to a battle, whereupon “Touchdown Jacksonville! ‘ withdrew Jacksonville’s candidacy.
That was the hour of Wayne Weaver: The millionaire businessman, who had been a member of the defunct bid committee, took over the application as a private person. He reached a new agreement with the city, and established a powerful sales organization which sold all suites and season subscriptions within days. Jacksonville was back in the race again and was able to outpace all its competitors: On November 30, 1993 the NFL owners decided that the 30th NFL team should be based in Jacksonville.
Although the Jaguars lost their first game, the “Hall of Fame” game, against the second expansion team, the Carolina Panthers, with 20:14, the team ended the first season with 4 wins and 12 losses, more than satisfactory for an expansion team. And the Jaguars improved quickly: Already in their second year, they were able to reach the AFC Championship Game. Unfortunately, at that time, it was not possible to follow the Jacksonville Jaguars games online, because in the next three years they played in the playoffs. With two division titles and two championship game appearances, the Jacksonville Jaguars stood better than any other expansion team of the NFL after five years.